Much has been written about Amsterdam’s 165 historic canals. We read about the virtues of these scenic Dutch waterways: they remove water. Increase transportation. Provide irrigation…
No doubt about it: just as in Venice, canals are hard evidence of smart urban planning.
But what about the romance of the canal?
Spend some quality time here in summer, and you’ll see the softer side of canals: antique canal bridges, backlit by red sunsets. Close families in rowboats, floating along, waving, chattering. Diners on restaurant boats, sunning themselves, clinking glasses, and laughing.
Another use for canals: swimming! In 2011, some friends got together to create a sort of swim-a-thon. Their aim was to support a sick friend, Weert-Jan Weerts, who was suffering from the disease ALS. The canal swimmers raised money for ALS research.
Tragically, Weert-Jan died of ALS in 2013. But his friends, the creators of Amsterdam City Swim, are keeping his memory alive. Using Amsterdam’s canals to honor a dear, departed friend: it’s romantic, for sure, and practical, too, raising awareness of a fatal disease. The City Swim is being held every year in September