Swimming in the Spree: mud in Spremberg, fun in Cottbus

They quickly pull off sports shoes and socks. This Nordic walking group regularly passes the Kutzeburger Mühle. So early the lemonade kiosk is still closed. So dip your feet in the Spree water.

Cold? Men and women laugh and shake their heads. This morning in Spremberg the water temperature was 18 degrees Celsius. Here, on the shallow shore near Cottbus-Gallinchen, it’s 19 degrees – and no iron hydroxide mud obscures the view of the bottom. The inn in Kutzeburger Mühle advertises itself as a swimming pool. – When I was a child, there were at least two official swimming areas here – says the senior with his dog from Gallinchen. “Most of the time the shore is quite flat. But behind the motorway flyover – it is rapidly going down two meters there – he warns.

Swimming in the Spree is allowed. In section 25 of the Water Resources Act this is classified as “shared use”. Anyone can dive – even with a breathing apparatus, draw water with hand utensils, aquatic animals, swim in a boat or with a handkerchief and take a bath. This is confirmed by Thomas Frey, spokesman for the Brandenburg Environment Authority. But everyone does it all at their own risk – he emphasizes. “Wherever there is danger, signs of danger and prohibition are posted,” says Frey.

In Cottbus, it is forbidden to jump from bridges to the Spree

This is how municipalities protect themselves. Therefore, jumping off bridges in Cottbus is prohibited, says city spokesman Jan Gloßmann. Swimming in the Stadtmühlenwehr in Spremberg is prohibited by the sign. And where the new Wilhelmsthaler bridge meanders over the Spree in Spremberg-Cantdorf, driving, diving and bathing are prohibited in the Spree-Neisse district.
That is why the River Spree at the Wilhelmsthaler Bridge remains a construction site

“As children from Cantdorf, we never thought of swimming in the Spree,” recalls Mayor René Nakoinz. The Spree in Cantdorf is wide and the shore is not very accessible. It was completely different for decades in the south of Spremberg. There was a sandbank in Trattendorf near Schmiedestübchen. It disappeared only two years ago during the renovation of the piers.

The river bathing in Spremberg-Slamen is especially fondly remembered. Christa Meyer proudly displayed her Freischwimmer certificate at the Spremberger Heimatkalender 2015 – obtained in 1939 in the Spree. Local historian Günther Kraske knows that bathing in the Spree was once banned throughout Spremberg, except for public baths. But the police administration issued it only in 1905 to increase the paid use of the river bathing beach.

Why is there growing concern about the Spree and groundwater in Spremberg

Up to your knees in the mud

Those days are over. The canoeist Armin Kiesslich does not recommend river bathing due to the iron hydroxide mud. “We have already seen young people on the tip of the Spree near Weißer Weir, but we canoeists swim in the Spree involuntarily.” Which does not exclude the possibility of jumping into the water from the pier in front of the hangar for refreshment on hot summer days after training.

Unfortunately, the ground is often very muddy. In 1979, Kießlich recalls, the last floating dredger was used to remove sediment in this part of the Spree. “Anyone who falls into the water on the Anglerheim side has to expect to be knee-deep in the mud. This is where the Spree has little flow, ”he says.

As a trainer, he admits children to the Spree only if they are fully equipped with canoes. With a life jacket, sturdy boots and neoprene clothing if possible. Anyone who falls into the River Spree while training in the white water at Weißer Weir also wears a helmet.

Phenols also flowed down the Spree

In 52 years of kayaking, Kiesslich has never seen anyone suffer from health problems due to a fall in the Spree. But the iron flakes are sometimes larger, sometimes smaller. “Phenols or similar residues also found their way into the Spree,” he recalls. It was in the summer of 1973. “During this time, a tar layer about ten centimeters thick had formed in the return water beyond the Weißer Weir.”

But beyond the dam, the Spremberg Spree is a completely different, clean river. Jordan Minge, Lennox Liebner and Lois Tober happily jump into the water near the Kiekebuscher weir. They are students of the Lausitzer Sportschule in Cottbus and they often swim in the Spree. “This is a great area here. Nature is very beautiful, ”says Jordan Minge. “After an intense soccer training,” says Lennox Liebner, “we can relax here.”

In Cottbus-Sandow you can swim at your own risk

The most popular river bathing area in Cottbus is the Sandow district near the Sanzeberg Bridge. “Swim at your own risk,” says an inscription from the city of Cottbus. According to city spokesman Jan Gloßmann, it has existed for about ten years.

Would such a sign be conceivable in Spremberg? Deputy Mayor Frank Kulik laughs. “With this water quality and poor visibility?” He would prefer to put up a sign pointing to the Kochsagrund outdoor pool on the banks of the River Spree.

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