The sea starts here – Elbe swimming relay

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research has been campaigning since early 2016 to raise awareness about the state of our seas and oceans. As part of the Science Year 2016/2017, the largest open water swimming relay in Germany was held along the Elbe River. Held under the title “The sea starts here”, 250 participants swam through six federal states in 19 stages to raise awareness about the state of our seas and oceans. 25 years ago, the Elbe was considered to be one of the dirtiest rivers in Europe. Thanks to the great efforts that have been made, it is now an inviting place to bathe, fish and conduct research. The tour started just outside of Dresden and ended in Hamburg, covering a total of 575km of waterways. Former professionals took part in the tour alongside amateurs, young and old swimmers alike. Water samples were taken at every stage in order to monitor the development along the river as well as to analyse the water quality. Every volunteer swimmer was greeted at the end of each stage by the T-shaped modulbox, which served as the main port of call for registrations, information and for handing out prizes to the swimmers. All surfaces were decorated with details about the event and information about the topic at hand, attracting visitors to take a closer look at every stop along the route. The floor was printed with a special design resembling a wooden floor to pick up on the boat-like atmosphere that pervaded the tour. The Elbe swimming relay was not only a huge success for all participants, but also in terms of raising awareness about issues affecting our waters. You can find out more about the tour here.

The project’ The sea begins here’ was developed by the agency follow red and over two years various actions around the topic were implemented.