This was EXPEDITION SWIM
 

Five weeks of EXPEDITION SWIM and even more than a year of preparations are behind us. First of all we want to thank Bruxelles Environnement to start and develop this adventure with us. EXPEDITION SWIM was conceived from the beginning as a combination of research and event, testing the possibility of outdoor swimming in the existing waters of Brussels while respecting the ecological importance of the ponds. We focused the research on two main directions: firstly, is there actually an interest among the people of Brussels to swim in the ponds of the city? And secondly, are the ponds we tested already fit for swimming? 

 

EXPEDITION 1 - 19.+20.07.2019 - Neerpede / Grand Étang de la Pede.
The first weekend was a great success, almost 500 people swam in the Neerpede pond. Click here for even more pictures.

There are two things that we remember most: the huge public interest in EXPEDITION SWIM, the online inscriptions were fully booked in less than a week, and the many happy faces of those that seized the chance for a swim at the first expedition in Neerpede, Anderlecht. It was fantastic to see so many people of all kinds enjoying the water in the sun for real for the first time in more than 40 years since the closing of the last swimming pool in Brussels. 

 

EXPEDITION 2 - 03.+04.08.2019 - Pêcheries Royales / Koninklijke Visserij.
Unfortunately, the seconed expedition had to be canceled due to the fluctuating water quality in the pond. Read more about it here. However, someone had to recuperate the swimming lines which were already placed. So Paul and Daniel of the EXPEDITION SWIM TEAM dared to take a swim.

On the other hand, the unfortunate fact that we couldn’t swim in the two other ponds that were selected for EXPEDITION SWIM also revealed that the ponds of Brussels aren’t ready yet for swimming. It’s mainly the water quality that is still too volatile. While it was good for most of the summer, it became insufficient at the very moment of two of the three expeditions. The reasons for this fluctuation of the water quality needs to be further investigated in order to consider swimming in the future. 

 

EXPEDITION 3 - 17.+18.08.2019 - Bois de la Cambre / Ter Kamerenbos.
Also on the second alternative date we had to cancel the swimming at Bois de la Cambre due to the water quality. But since we wanted to end EXPEDITION SWIM with a positive note, we built a little sauna and had different but great aquatic fun. The pontoon and the swimming zone communicated the idea of swimming in the future.

We will now start working on an in-depth evaluation of EXPEDITION SWIM. The resulting report will be published during an event later this year and should serve as a basis for extensive discussions with the new Government of the Brussels Region, Bruxelles Environnement, the communes and of course the citizens of Brussels. What could swimming in ponds or the canal be like in the future? What role can it play next to classic open air swimming pools? 

Once more, thank you to everyone who helped us to make EXPEDITION SWIM possible. To all the people working in administration and politics, at companies, institutions and services. And especially to the many volunteers who spent their time on building, running and communicating EXPEDITION SWIM throughout the weeks. It would have been impossible without you. We built up an amazing network of skilled people that we can count on for amazing projects in the future!

 
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SWIMMING: NO - EXPEDITION: YES
 
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It seems as if some Brussels ponds do not want you to swim in them. 

The water quality at Bois de la Cambre was good in the last weeks, until today when we received the very last results which are bad. Guess what it means ... again NO SWIMMING this weekend! 

But since everything is already set up, and since we will have a hot addition which will be ready anyway, we decided to still go for the expedition! 

See you in the Bois de la Cambre for a weekend in the park. It will also be a good moment to start the discussion about the future of open air swimming after this year's experiences between disappointment (Pêcheries Royales & Bois de la Cambre) and enthusiasm (Neerpede). 

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Because someone had to do it ...
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After the canceled expedition to Pêcheries Royales we had to remove also the lines which delimited the swimming zone. Two of us took up the burden and went into the water for this heavy task. We suffered a lot as you can see … 

Joking aside, it was a pleasant ending to this unfortunate expedition. Thanks to the depth of more than 2 m, we could have a real swim. It would have been a pleasure to bathe with you this weekend. 

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EXPEDITION 3: Pêcheries Royales - CANCELED !
 
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With the swimming equipment already half prepared we must announce with deep grief that the EXPEDITION SWIM at Pêcheries Royales is CANCELED.

Due to a fluctuant water quality in the past, Bruxelles Environnement, our project partner and responsible for the ponds, informed us that they can not guarantee the water quality in the weekend.

Therefore the swimming is canceled since we follow their expertise and won't put anyone's health in question. We are very sorry for this last minute information.

 
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More water tests before EXPEDITION 3
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While preparing the expedition to Pêcheries Royales next weekend, we are still struggling with the aftermath of the weather of the last days, first the heat in the week, then the heavy rain in the weekend. Blue-green algae bloomed last week during the extremely hot and sunny days. Also called cyanobacterias, they can produce toxins that are dangerous for animals and humans, a reason for Bruxelles Environment to install the warning signs at the pond. Blooms of cyanobacterias are a common problem in waters all around the world during hot and sunny days. However, after the cool weekend the water of Pêcheries Royales looks already much better, but to be sure we are doing a special test besides the weekly tests by Brulabo. In Brussels, this special test can only be performed by the laboratory of Vivaqua. We expect to receive all results by Wednesday afternoon. We will tell you as soon as possible!

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EXPEDITION 2: Bois de la Cambre - CANCELED !
 
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For reasons beyond our control, the EXPEDITION SWIM in Bois de la Cambre is cancelled. However, we are already in talks for an alternative date later this summer.

At the moment, the water quality of the ponds does not allow the organization of swimming in it. As you can feel, Brussels experiences an exceptional heat wave. This causes stress not only for us humans but also for the natural habitat of the ponds. In general, the water is constantly influenced by meteorological phenomena, such as ambient temperature or heavy precipitation like thunderstorms. This is followed up by Bruxelles Environnement together with Brulabo.

In order to protect bathers and the environment, we are forced to cancel the swimming this Saturday and Sunday. We are very sorry for this inconvenience.

Please understand that EXPEDITION SWIM is a test program about swimming in existing ponds that are not (yet) made for swimming. The possibility of insufficient water quality is something we took into account from the very beginning. The situation at Pêcheries Royales, the third location, is also followed up closely, you will receive an update about it next week.

We are at the moments in talks with administrations and project partners regarding an alternative date for a swim at Bois de la Cambre later this summer. We will send you an update once we know the new date, your inscription remains valid.

See you very soon.

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EXPEDITION 1: Neerpede / Grande Étang de la Pede

Friday 19.07.2019 and Saturday 20.07.2019

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The first expedition to the Neerpede pond is behind us and we can say that we achieved something extraordinary: The first official open air swimming in Brussels since more than 40 years! We are sure it will leave its mark in the future …
Such nice days, happy faces all around and even the little bit of rain couldn’t stop you from swimming. We are extremely grateful for all the people who made this happen, from our team to all the involved administrations, from politicians to project partners that delivered excellent service, from all the selfless volunteers to you and everyone who came for a swim. Thank you very very very much! These are pictures from the beginning of construction to the very end, with lots of fun and pleasure in between.


But this was only the beginning of EXPEDITION SWIM! There are two more weekends to come, 27.+28.07. at Bois de la Cambre and 03.+04.08. at Pêcheries Royales, each day from noon until 6 pm. Besides the online inscription we can guarantee that there are always places free for a swim, so even if you decide to join last minute, don’t worry. See you in the water!

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A check before the swims

We did a little bicycle tour to two of the EXPEDITION SWIM locations: Bois de la Cambre and Pêcheries Royales. Besides the weekly water quality tests it’s also important to verify the „visual“ quality of the pond and its surrounding. As you can see in the first pictures of Bois de la Cambre, there is a slight green haze on the water close to the edge. These are tiny water lentils, not algae, and harmless. Besides that, the water looks fine. However, please be aware that it’s not very deep, only around 1 to 1,20 meters.

But before EXPEDITION SWIM, the TOUR DE FRANCE will pass through the park, cutting the grass is part of the dressing up of Brussels for this event, we suppose.

At Pêcheries Royales you will swim with the ducks. Cleaning the wooden deck will be one of our jobs in the preparations. There are also some heaps of water plants under the surface that grew a lot in the past days of heat and sun. We will move them from the swimming zone before the EXPEDITION SWIM. The red and yellow buoys are put in place by a model boat club as a parcours. Some of them will be moved (and moved back!) for the swim.

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Results of the environmental impact studies
 
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We are very happy to announce that we have received the final reports of the environmental impact studies for the three ponds of Neerpede, Bois de la Cambre and Pêcheries Royales. The studies were executed by Aries Consultants, a research and consulting firm in environment and sustainable development.

They researched the impact of EXPEDITION SWIM on the environment of the ponds, both in and around the water. What does it mean to swim in the ponds?

The conclusions are clear: there are no objections against EXPEDITION SWIM:

The project, which is very limited in size and duration, is expected to have only limited consequences. These consequences will mainly relate to the impact on aquatic flora and water quality/ turbidity when swimming. However, these impacts will be limited given the small footprint of the bathing area and its location in the pond.”

This conclusion comes with several recommendations for the organization of EXPEDITION SWIM like providing showers or toilets, inform the participants about a possible impact of sunscreen on the water or to ask the swimmers not to jump into the water in order to limit churned up mud from the ground. All these recommendations will be followed.

You can download the full reports here (available only in French):
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Bois de la Cambre
Pêcheries Royales

It’s important to note that this evaluation refers only to the conditions of EXPEDITION SWIM with it’s delimited swimming zone (between 1% and 5% of the total surface of the ponds), it’s limited timeframe (only two afternoons at each pond) and the limited number of swimmers (only 50 at the same time). Every future project with a larger ambition, in size, time or number, must be re-evaluated according to the same principles and the conclusion could be different. That means the positive result of the studies for EXPEDITION SWIM does not automatically mean that swimming can be permitted in general in the future.

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This is the team!
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This week we met with (almost) all the volunteers, lifeguards, the POOL IS COOL team and KAK : the people who will make EXPEDITION SWIM happen in the coming weeks! The design of the pavilion was presented, timing and tasks were made clear and new ideas were gathered. It’s such a promising team! If you want to join, there are still some slots open and you are anyway more than welcome at any moment! Thanks Dan aka General Bazaar for the musical end of the evening. And thanks to La Vallée for having us. It will also be the homebase of the project between the swims. And maybe maybe there might be a pool in the courtyard in the summer of 2020 …

 
 
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Join the team of EXPEDITION SWIM!

Are you handy with tools and do you like constructing and building? Then you could join our CONSTRUCTION or BUILDING team! Are you more a peoples person and you like to give information or ask for feedback? Would you like to manage the expedition site with us? Then you are a perfect fit for our ANIMATION team!

Interested? Below you can find more details about the different teams and the dates. For more information, send an email to help@expeditionswim.be!

 
 

There are three different teams in which you can help:

  1. The CONSTRUCTION team will be constructing the wooden swimming installation starting from 1st of July till 14 July, place and time to be confirmed.The CONSTRUCTION team are members of POOL IS COOL, the designers and 3 to 4 volunteers.
  2. The BUILDING team will SET UP and TAKE DOWN the construction on site which takes place two days prior to the swimming days and usually one day after the swimming days. See below for the exact days and places. The BUILDING team are members of POOL IS COOL and 2 to 3 volunteers.
  3. The ANIMATION team will care for the mood of the swimmers and park visitors by informing, asking for feedback and keeping the expedition site tidy during the SWIMMING DAYS from 10:00 to 19:00. See below for the exact days and places. The ANIMATION team consists of members of POOL IS COOL, K.A.K. and 3 volunteers.

POOL IS COOL provides a volunteering fee of € 34,71 * per day. Each team will be provided a suitable EXPEDITION SWIM outfit, specific tools, sunscreen, food and drinks.

* this crooked number is the maximum we can give according to regulations ...


Dates:

CONSTRUCTION DAYS:
From 01/07 till 14/07, place and time to be confirmed.

EXPEDITION 1: Grand Étang de la Pede, Anderlecht 
SET UP: Wednesday and Thursday 17. + 18.07.19
SWIMMING DAYS: Friday and Saturday 19. + 20.07.19
TAKE DOWN: Sunday and Monday 21. + 22.07.19 (half days)

EXPEDITION 2: Bois de la Cambre, City of Brussels 
SET UP: Thursday and Friday 25. + 26.07.19
SWIMMING DAYS: Saturday and Sunday 27. + 28.07.19
TAKE DOWN: Monday 29.07.19

EXPEDITION 3: Pêcheries Royales, Watermael-Boitsfort 
SET UP: Thursday and Friday 01. + 02.08.19
SWIMMING DAYS: Saturday and Sunday 03. + 04.08.19
TAKE DOWN: Monday 05.08.19


Alternative dates: 

(in case the first dates are not possible due to bad weather or water quality)

EXPEDITION 4: Grand Étang de la Pede
SET UP: Wednesday and Thursday 7 + 8.08.19
SWIMMING DAYS: Friday and Saturday 09. + 10.08.19
TAKE DOWN: Sunday and Monday 11. + 12.08.19 (half days)

EXPEDITION 5: Bois de la Cambre or Pêcheries Royales
SET UP: Thursday and Friday 15 + 16.08.19
SWIMMING DAYS: Saturday and Sunday 17. + 18.08.19
TAKE DOWN: Monday 19.08.19


Are you available and eager to help? Great! Send an email to help@expeditionswim.be and tell us which team you would like to join and when you are available.

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Neighborhood Information Session at Neerpede

Yesterday we organized the first Neighborhood information session at the Neerpede pond after spreading the invitations two weeks before. Present: Louisa and Paul of POOL IS COOL, Nikolas of KAK and Elodie of Bruxelles Environnement. Six interested people found the way to our little red tent. Some are living right next to the pond, others come regularly from Molenbeek for a walk with their dog.

From left to right: Paul of POOL IS COOL, Elodie of Bruxelles Environnement, Louisa of POOL IS COOL and four of the six interested neighbors.

From left to right: Paul of POOL IS COOL, Elodie of Bruxelles Environnement, Louisa of POOL IS COOL and four of the six interested neighbors.

It was a friendly but critical meeting. While everyone agrees that there should be open air swimming in Brussels, they doubted that the Neerpede vijver is the right place for it. They found the initial communication about the project by the cabinet of the minister of environment in the beginning a pity since it didn’t put the emphasize on the exceptional nature of EXPEDITION SWIM, allowing swimming in a limited zone for just two days. Instead it seemed like swimming will now be allowed in all the places that were mentioned. In fact, it remains forbidden in general!

Another topic was the disbelief that the water quality is actually good enough for swimming. We reassured them that water tests are currently done weekly by Bruxelles Environnement in collaboration with Brulabo. EXPEDITION SWIM will only happen if the water quality meets the official standards! It’s also important to know that water that is safe for swimming, does not necessarily have a good ecological quality too. For example, lack of oxygen after hot days is a problem for the fauna in the lake but has no impact on the swimming parameters.

A third question was the future of the swimming in the Neerpede area. We confirmed that the result of the swimming tests will give an idea on how permanent swimming places should be developed. However, it does not at all mean that the Neerpede pond will become that place! There are thoughts by both, Bruxelles Environnement and the commune of Anderlecht, to consider outdoor swimming in the area. The exact place and all questions around management or financing will be a topic for the future.

We discussed also other topics like sunscreen or traffic, but we also shared some information about other projects in Brussels like the plan of the City of Brussels to build an open air swimming pool or a possible pool project on the site of Abattoir.

We concluded the meeting in a nice atmosphere. It’s possible that we didn’t convince everyone completely of EXPEDITION SWIM, but everyone is excited to see how it will go.

The next information session for the neighborhood will happen in two weeks at Pêcheries Royales.

A visit to Neerpede
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Today we visited the Neerpede pond in Anderlecht to verify some details for the infrastructure of EXPEDITION SWIM. Thanks to the great weather the surrounding of the pond was bustling! People were jogging, having a walk, eating ice cream, sailing model boats, studying for exams, explaining their children the wildlife or just relaxing in the sun. And the birds joined this lively atmosphere without any timidity! 
We're looking forward to add swimming to the list, on July 19 (Friday) and 20 (Saturday). Let's hope that the ice cream car show up again! See you at EXPEDITION SWIM!

Swimming, powered by the sun!

Do we need electricity at EXPEDITION SWIM? Not for the swimming since we will simply jump into the natural ponds. But there are a couple of elements that rely on electricity: pumps for the showers, a fridge, a computer for the registrations, tools and cameras. Since EXPEDITION SWIM takes place in three parks, it’s not evident to find a source for electricity. Points to connect to the public network are often far away. Generators that run on gasoline don’t match with our ambition of a eco-friendly swimming experience with respect to the nature and neighborhood. What’s left? Solar energy!

 
The team of ZON OP WIELEN during the construction of their trailer.

The team of ZON OP WIELEN during the construction of their trailer.

 

In Mechelen, between Brussels and Antwerp, we found ZON OP WIELEN (sun on wheels), a team of 7 guys who were faced with a similar question some years ago. They organize summer camps in the nature for scouts and other youth organizations and wondered how they can power the fridges that they need for food and drinks without a socket at hand or without the noisy generators. Why can’t you use the energy of the summer sun? A simple question and a straightforward answer: after some prototypes they built themselves a trailer with fridges in the back that serves as the point of energy at their camps. Solar panels fold from the side and top towards the sun, batteries store the energy for the nights and cloudy days. It even produces enough electricity for some shower pumps and light and music installations. The trailer is now used for own events but also rented to other organizations.

 
 
 

Their experience convinced us to work with them on the electricity installation for EXPEDITION SWIM. We are looking forward to provide you a fresh shower and a cool drink!

If you have a similar question, contact them via info@zonopwielen.be and have a look at their website: www.zonopwielen.be

 
Our visit to Mechelen …

Our visit to Mechelen …

… to see the trailer in action!

… to see the trailer in action!

 
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Assembl'Eau Spéciale

Thanks to everyone who came to the ASSEMBL’EAU SPÉCIALE yesterday, the launch of EXPEDITION SWIM. We were overwhelmed by your enthusiasm to help us to build the infrastructure and manage the swimming days this summer! If you think you would like to help too, send a mail to help@expeditionswim.be ! We will share more details here on the website in a couple of days.

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Safety first!
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Safety first before the swim! Today, divers of ‘Plongeurs Professionnels Associé’ checked the swimming zone at Bois de la Cambre for debris on the ground which could pose a risk for swimmers. As you can see, it’s not that deep, but certainly enough for a splash!

In parallel, Bruxelles Environnement does tests of the water quality. This includes the physical parameters like temperature, pH value or oxygen, the turbidity of the water and biological test with samples that are later examined at Brulabo. Brulabo is the official laboratory that does all the water tests of the public swimming pools in Brussels.

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The beginning ...

We, POOL IS COOL, are working already for a long time on EXPEDITION SWIM. And of course we couldn't really keep it to ourselves. Have a look at some earlier Instagram-posts of POOL IS COOL about the upcoming summer projects! From now on, follow EXPEDITION SWIM directly on Instagram: www.instagram.com/expeditionswim

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