Updated: August 08, 2017

Stressed and tired of commuting daily in congested traffic?  Swim to work.  That’s exactly what one German man did in Munich.

“I commute to work not by bus, not by car but by swimming down our river, the Isar. The traffic on the road next to the Isar is so wild that it is no fun,” said Benjamin David in a BBC interview. The idea struck him when he discovered the Isar was used as a waterway for transport over 150 years.

The swim to work concept is not new. In 2012, a project dubbed the Lido Line was conceived with the idea of converting a stretch of the Regent’s Canal into a swimmable commuting route.

Commuters can swim safely beside boats in a basin inserted into the canal. Changing facilities would be available at key stations along the waterway.  Regent’s Canal is situated north of Central London in Great Britain.

Rejuvenating Body and Mental Health

David who commutes two kilometres (1.24 miles) daily to his workplace located along the Isar River said it’s quicker and more relax to swim. He swims daily during the summer months, and less in the winter.

Fitness gurus would agree swimming is one of the best forms of exercise. It’s a total body workout, joint-friendly and great way to burn calories. Better still, swimming maximizes cardio, and its revitalizing.

It appears he keeps his belongings dry in a waterproof Wickelfisch swim bag, which also serves as a rescue buoy. The Swiss-invented Wickelfisch bag is popular with swimmers on the Basel’s Rhine River and Zurich’s Limmat River in Switzerland.

Global EAT - Swim to Work on the Isar: Alternative Urban Commuting
The Isar River in Munich is more than a tourist attraction. Nude sunbathing is a common sight along the river banks. (Jörg Lutz, Fotodesign Lutz, Jörg/Deutsche Zentrale für Tourismus e.V.)

Safety is Crucial

David said he wears rubber sandals to protect his feet from glass or old bicycles that sometimes lay in the river. “But most importantly, I check the water level, and with that, the speed of the current and the water temperature,” he added.

The Isar was at one time an important transportation route for goods arriving from Venice. Today it’s no longer a transportation corridor. David said he wouldn’t be surprised if this changes in the future. For now, he will keep swimming to work on the Isar.

Germany Scored High for Clean Waters

According to the European Environment Agency 2016 bathing water quality report, Germany is among the top 10 countries in the European Union that has ‘excellent’ bathing water (coastal and inland) quality. About 91 per cent of its 2,292 bathing water sites tested received excellent quality rating.

Attractions along the Isar

The Isar is Bavaria’s fourth longest river after the Danube, Main and Inn.The 295 kilometres (182 miles) long glacier-fed River originates in the Alps in Tirol, Austria, and enters Germany near Mittenwald. It then continues to Bad Tölz, Munich, and Landshut before reaching the famed Danube near Deggendorf, in the southern German state of Bavaria.

Mittenwald was an important crossroad on the south-to-north European trade route from the Middle Ages through to the early 20th century. Rafts were used to ship incoming goods from Venice to Munich via the Isar River at Mittenwald.  Today, the medieval village nestled in the Bavarian Alps, draws visitors with its colourful painted houses and violin making history.

Global EAT - Swim to Work on the Isar: Alternative Urban Commuting
Oktoberfest, where the best of Bavarian beer, culture and gastronomy are showcased. Eat, Drink, Dance and Play in the world greatest folk festival for all ages. (Pierre Adenis/Büro Gaff/Deutsche Zentrale für Tourismus e.V.)

Bad Tölz is known for its mineral and medicinal mud-bath spas.  The picturesque Alpine town is about an hour train ride from Munich.

Munich – Home of Oktoberfest

The world’s largest annual Volksfest (beer festival and travelling funfair) takes place at Thereisienwiese in Munich’s Ludwigsvorstadt-Isarvorstadt quarters every year. The 16-to-18 day folk festival runs from mid or late September to the first weekend in October. Some six million visitors from around the globe attend the event annually. This year Oktoberfest will run from September 16 to October 03.


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