Our figure of the month 02/2020: Decline and density of swimming pools – Germany threatens to become a country of non-swimmers!

Lowest pool density in city states, the North-East and in North Rhine-Westphalia  

The number of swimming pools in Germany has been declining gradually for decades. According to the German Lifesaving Society (DLRG), the number of public pools has fallen by approx. 1.500 since the year 2000, which corresponds to an annual decline of about 80 pools. The DLRG has warned of the resulting negative effects for a long time, especially due to the lack of swimming lessons in schools. Because of the reduction of public pools in Germany, about a quarter of primary schools can already no longer offer swimming lessons. Thus, Germany threatens to become a country of non-swimmers! According to a Forsa survey, 59% of 10-year-olds are no longer safe swimmers. Due to a petition, the sports committee of the German Bundestag hast just started to deal with the problem of the declining number of swimming pools in January 2020.

Reason enough to look at the regional distribution of pools to see in which federal states the swimming pool emergency is greatest or where the equipment with pools – related to the number of inhabitants – is more positive.

In the map of Germany the density of swimming pools by federal state, i.e. the number of pools per 100,000 inhabitants is shown. The figures are based on regional data available from the “Deutsche Gesellschaft für Baederwesen for the year 2016. As shown in the pie chart next to the map, there are approx. 2,300 indoor or combined swimming pools and just as many outdoor swimming pools throughout Germany, each category accounting for around 45% of the total number. In addition there are about 500 natural pools (about 10% of all public pools).

Apart from the federal states with the third and fourth largest population, Baden-Württemberg (7.8 pools per 100,000 inhabitants) and Lower Saxony (7.6), the states of Thuringia (9.6), Saxony-Anhalt (7.8) and Saxony (7.7) hold the highest density of swimming pools. However, the low population density especially in the eastern German federal states contributes to the relatively high number of swimming pools per inhabitant.

At the lower end of the scale are conversely the densely populated city states of Hamburg, Berlin and Bremen with only about 2 to 3 pools per 100,000 inhabitants. The same applies, however, to the state with the highest population: North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) with only 4.5 baths per 100,000 inhabitants. Since the 810 public swimming pools in this federal state in the North-West have to be shared by 18 million inhabitants, the pool density is far below the national average (6.2 public pools per 100,000 inhabitants). So NRW is probably the state where the swimming pool emergency in schools is most noticeable and action for refurbishing and new pool construction is most urgent.

The population in Bavaria is far better equipped: in the largest state measured by square kilometres, there are about 920 swimming pools, which is the highest number in a federal state. The bath density reaches an average of 7 pools per 100,000 inhabitants. Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein also achieve a similarly high density of swimming pools and thus also lie above the national average of approx. 6.2 public pools per 100,000 inhabitants.

Other figures can be found here.

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