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The BBC reports: Students applying to one of China’s most prestigious universities have been told they must learn to swim before they graduate.

Tsinghua University, known as the Harvard of the East, has ruled that the nation’s top minds must also prove themselves in the pool.

The news made waves on Chinese social media, with some questioning the move in a country struggling with drought.

But the university said swimming was a key survival skill.

President of Tsinghua University, Qiu Yong, said the exercise was made compulsory for all students because it also improved physical fitness.

One of China’s most highly regarded institutions, Tsinghua University first made swimming a requirement in 1919, but it was later dropped due to the university’s popularity and a lack of swimming pools in Beijing.

However, under the rules announced on Monday, new students beginning in September will have to take the plunge and demonstrate that they can swim at least 50m (164ft) using any stroke.

‘Arbitrary rules’

The announcement has been hotly debated on social media, with some questioning whether it is reasonable to expect those who grew up in inland cities to learn how to swim as adults.

“What happens to students from arid places that have no seaside or rivers?” wrote Yixunsangyao.

Another commenter, Xishuoge, wrote: “Even though it is a ‘famous university’, it shouldn’t make up arbitrary rules, as such rules could snuff out talents.”

Others, such as Shin-ssi, praised the university for promoting a “necessary skill which can save lives”, adding: “It’s a good thing for the university to emphasise this.”

Those who appeared pleased with their own abilities to swim, made light of the announcement, asking if they could enrol as students at Tsinghua University.

 

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The Guardian reports: “Get in the water, get your shoulders under.”

A day of cold blue therapy. Where volunteer marshals lined up more than 700 competitors for 114 races at intervals timed to the second. “Get in the water, get your shoulders under,” they said briskly and everyone did, briskly. More…

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image-20161208-31364-86rhncThe Conversation Reports: Our modern distaste for river swimming is a stark constrast with a history where urban rivers provided a venue for sport, recreation and entertainment – all within easy distance of shops, offices and public transport.

Pollution has changed the face of river swimming across the world. Not that pollution in itself has put people off outdoor swimming. In the UK for instance, summertime tradition sees holidaymakers keen to paddle and swim in the sea despite pollution on many beaches. Rather, the public perception that rivers and lakes are unsafe or unclean is so intrenched that it is rarely questioned. Rather like the beguiled Emperor in Hans Christian Anderson’s: The Emperor’s New Clothes, todays would be swimmers are so convinced by what they think they know that they cannot see what is obvious to little boys.

Discover just how different attitudes are in Switzerland

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Dutch News reports:

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Make the most of the last days of summer with a swim in a Dutch lake

Facilities
The facilities for swimming in lakes and rivers are often excellent, with many boasting a mixture of spotless toilet blocks, manned car parks and refreshment vans, to ensure the best possible experience.
Amsterdam, for example, has nine official places where you can swim, if you dare, and the water is currently around 22 degrees. In fact in the Netherlands as a whole, there are around 600 official places to swim. Noord-Holland tops the provincial league with 151 but even Utrecht has 25 places you can take a safe dip.
Every province publishes an annual list of approved swimming spots, and the transport ministry – which manages 6,000 kilometres of rivers and canals – teams up with local water suppliers and the environment ministry performs weekly checks on the water quality at each site during the official swim season, between May 1 and October 1.

Popularity
‘People here have always been keen swimmers but now the popularity of open water swimming is certainly increasing,’ says Ellen Julius of the Dutch swimming federation, which organised the event.
‘Swims like the one in Dordrecht are regularly happening across the country and attract lots of people. People love to take to the water in the Netherlands, but they are also well aware of the regulations around these activities,’ she adds.
And that really is the key. To all of you out there soaking up the last bits of summer, take the opportunities to swim outdoors but take heed of the warnings. Above all, enjoy.
* Visit www.zwemwater.nl for a clickable map of all the official swimming places

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The Age – Victoria reports: Fancy a swim in the Yarra River?

Watercraft regulations make it illegal and water quality makes it questionable – especially after it rains – but a not-for-profit group wants to change that by building a floating swimming pool on the river’s edge that would cost at least $6 million.

The Yarra Swim Co has released a concept design for the pool it suggests could be built on the banks of the Yarra next to Enterprize Park, where Melbourne’s settlers moored their ship in 1835.

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The concept was released on Thursday night as part of Australia’s Venice Biennale Exhibition, opening this week.

The group last year pushed to revive the historic Race to Princes Bridge, a swim competition that ran from the early 1900s to the 1960s, and again in the late 1980s.

It argues that waterway pools are a growing concept globally, with plans under way for New York and London. More…

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Luxembourg Wort reports: Landlocked Luxembourg has among the cleanest swimming spots in Europe, an EU-wide water quality audit has found.

Luxembourg topped the ranking in the report released on Wednesday, recording “good” or “excellent” water quality in all 11 of its outdoor wild swimming holes.

The tests concerned bathing water at the Remerschen swimming lake in south-east Luxembourg, and at 10 sites located around the Upper Sûre Lake in the mid-north of Luxembourg. More…

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The Connection reports: Swimming in the Seine could become a reality in the next year as mayor Anne Hidalgo has launched a 43-point plan to clean up the Paris river.

Aiming to make the Seine a focal point if the city wins the 2024 Olympic Games, she wants to “improve the water quality” and open up the Bassin de la Villette for swimmers next year.

Swimming has been banned on the river since 1923 except by special permit and the last major event to be held on the Seine was the Paris Triathlon in 2012. However, that year a competitor died after falling ill in the water and the next planned event, with 3,000 swimmers, was banned by the prefecture. More…

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