Swimmers take the plunge to call for cleaner waterways

Thousands of people dived into rivers, lakes and canals on Sunday as part of an international campaign for cleaner waterways.

The Big Jump, organised in Belgium by the NGO Good Planet, takes place every year, with simultaneous events in France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland as well as around 30 jumps in Flanders and Wallonia. This year's theme was plastics and micro-plastics.

"We are pushing for more outdoor swimming places, not in swimming pools but in open water," said Sigrid Spruyt of Outdoor Swimming Belgium, who spoke at the Antwerp jump. "Today there are far too few of them in our country. So we are happy to support actions for plastic-free water, like today."

Before the Antwerp Big Jump, the River Cleanup group organised a campaign that removed almost 100 kg of litter from the water.

According to Flemish nature organisation Natuurpunt, no waterway in Belgium currently complies with the European Water Framework Directive, which focuses on reducing and removing pollution and ensuring there is enough clean water to support wildlife and human needs.

Swimmers in Antwerp take part in the Big Jump campaign © BELGA PHOTO / VIDEO TIJS VANDERSTAPPEN

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