Open Water Swimming Safety In The Netherlands


No two individuals have a greater influence on their country’s open water swimming culture than Richard Broer and Niek Kloots (shown on left).

The long-time Dutch open water enthusiasts have served in every possible role within the open water swimming community in the Netherlands. And over the years, they have collectively pushed for and implemented a number of safety protocols, procedures and policies with the athletes always in mind.

Broer and Kloots dictate and execute the following procedures when designing and conducting an open water swim in the Netherlands:

1. All events have a safety plan that is used to obtain a permit from the local government.
2. No event is held in unsafe waters due to chemical or bacterial pollution.
3. No event longer than 1 km is swum in water colder than 15ºC (59ºF) and all distances at 16ºC (60.8ºF). Note: in the Netherlands, there are no open water events on record that are conducted in water warmer than 26ºC (78.8ºF).
4. There are a sufficient number of certified life savers who are affiliated with the national life savers federation or sometimes the local fire department.
5. There is adequate communication devices (e.g., radios).
6. Referees and judges must not be in the same boats with the life savers.
7. There must be a first aid team that is affiliated with national Red Cross on site during a race.
8. No more than 4 heats are in the water at the same time. Note: races in the Netherlands are no longer than 150 participants.
9. There must be one fast motorboat for the life savers and a safety diver available.
10. Life savers must use their own equipment that is certified by the national federation as well as their own communication devices.
11. All security is under one command who is usually the safety officer who is also a life saver.
12. The security officer has a direct contact (via telephone) with the Fire Department (using 911) for extensive search and rescue (e.g., on the 22 km

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