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On a visit to Basel, I saw its residents swimming in the Rhine. I just had to try it myself

By James Woodall   June 2011

The annual “Basler Rheinschwimmen,” when Basel’s inhabitants take to the Rhine

On a summer’s evening in Basel, I was walking along the left bank of the Rhine when I saw heads bobbing in the water. It was a Wednesday, around 9pm. The water was lit by cafés and bars, and by lamps on a festival stage moored a short way from the right bank.

These floating Swiss were relishing the pleasures of what I later discovered is known as the “free-water season.” Once the Rhine has been warmed by the sun, Baselers take to the water at any time of…

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