SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

ZURICH

Reader question: Do people really swim to work in Zurich?

Whether you live in Zurich or not, you may have heard stories of people swimming to work (at least in the summer months). Is it true - and how easy is it?

Urban swimming in the Limmat, Zurich's main river. Photo: Photo by Bö Benkö on Unsplash
Urban swimming in the Limmat, Zurich's main river. Photo by Bö Benkö on Unsplash

Other than for people who tend swim-up bars or perhaps for police divers, the idea of swimming to work seems ludicrous for most of us. 

This is particularly the case in most major cities. But Zurich, despite having a metro area population of around 1.5 million, is not most major cities – particularly when it comes to the city’s closeness to nature and its waterways. 

Do people swim to work in Zurich? 

Whether you live here or are just visiting, swimming is a popular pastime in Zurich. 

Swimming in the middle of the city on a warm summer's day is certainly possible in Zurich

People swimming at Wasserwerkstrasse 89 in central Zurich. Photo by Teo Zac on Unsplash

The waterways are clean and accessible – and unlike most things in Switzerland they’re either free or very cheap. 

READ MORE: Ten things people take for granted in Zurich

Swimming in rivers and in Lake Zurich is free, while visiting a Badi – a Zurich abbreviation of Swiss swimming bath – will set you back a few francs but will allow you to access basic amenities like changing rooms, toilets and cafeterias. 

Some Zurich residents have even managed to take advantage of the current of the city’s major river, the Limmat, to swim or float to work. 

A story by Germany’s Welt magazine in July 2022 spoke about the phenomenon of people swimming to or from their place of work in Switzerland’s largest city. 

“Some people in Zurich even swim to work (or, depending on the direction, home from their shift). They are easily recognisable from the bank as they have a waterproof, rope-tied swimming bag in tow in which to stow their day clothes and other belongings,” the magazine wrote

Although fewer Zurchers swim to work than claim they do, it does take place – and the fact that it is possible for part of the year is something truly special. 

How can I do it? 

Starting at Lake Zurich, the Limmat flows through the city in a north westerly direction. 

There are points to get in pretty much along the entire river, with some jumping from bridges or pontoons and others climbing in from the banks. 

A photo of Zurich's Limmat river. Image: Wikicommons/CC

A photo of Zurich’s Limmat river. Image: Wikicommons/CC

If you do choose to jump in, make sure the river is deep enough – and never dive in head first. 

Travel: How to save money while visiting Switzerland

One of the major advantages is the current, which strongly flows out of the lake and northwest towards the cantonal border with Aargau. 

The strong current means you can float along the river without needing to put in too much effort swimming. 

The disadvantage however is that the current – which continues in the same direction consistently – means even strong swimmers will be unable to swim back. 

So if you do swim to work, there’s a fair chance you won’t be swimming home. 

What about keeping my stuff dry?

Anyone swimming to work may want to take dry clothes and perhaps their phone or laptop with them. 

One option is to use a waterproof swimming bag, which not only allows you to keep your stuff dry but acts as a buoyant inflatable pillow to help you float down the river. 

There are several companies which make waterproof bags and bladders which are designed specifically for the purpose, including the Basel-based Wickelfisch. 

There are several videos available online which show people swimming the Limmat, including for work. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

ZURICH

‘3,000 francs a month?’: Zurich to vote on trying universal basic income

On Sunday September 25th, while the Swiss will decide on three national issues in a national referendum, Zurich voters will weigh in on a pilot project involving the recurring issue of universal basic income.

'3,000 francs a month?': Zurich to vote on trying universal basic income

The idea of the government handing out a set amount of money to its citizens is not a novel concept in Switzerland: in 2016, a referendum made Switzerland the first country in the world to vote at national level on this issue.

But 76.9 percent of voters rejected this initiative because they could not see how it could be funded without increasing taxes.

Some left-leaning districts in Zurich, however, voted in favour of the universal basic income (UBI), and while nothing came of it on the national level at the time, the city will re-vote on this issue on Sunday.

READ MORE: Zurich to roll out universal basic income pilot project

While the exact details are still muddy, voters will decide whether to offer “free” money on monthly basis to 500 residents chosen for the pilot project.

Though the amount is not yet determined, it could likely be between 2,500 and 3,000 francs a month.

Contrary to what had been proposed at the federal level in 2016, the part paid by the city government will vary according to income from work.

For the political left, which launched the proposal, UBI “represents a possible answer to current challenges such as automation, poverty and the climate crisis”, the group says on its website.

Among the opponents, the municipal council “believes that paid work is the most important element to ensure the livelihood of individuals and at the same time create social prosperity”.

Does this proposal have a chance of success?

Based on the outcome of the national vote, probably not.

On a municipal level too, such initiatives have already failed in Bern and Lucerne.

However, as Swiss media points out, “Zurich is very left”, so perhaps UBI can get more of a boost there.

As far as the national referendum on September 25th is concerned, this article explains what issues will be voted on:

Pensions, farming and tax: What issues will the Swiss vote on this month?
 

SHOW COMMENTS