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August 7, 2009

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Police give away swimming pool tickets

THE Songjiang District police will give free passes for swimming pools to those caught swimming in rivers or lakes, as a way to persuade them to visit safe swimming facilities.

The district has reported 11 deaths from people swimming in rivers this summer, with another person missing.

Outdoor swimmers, mostly migrant workers and their families, risk their lives to avoid what they consider high prices for pool entry.

"People swim in the river when the temperature rises, ignoring others' advice," said a resident surnamed Hu living near the Thames Town in Songjiang.

According to Songjiang police, the varying depths, temperatures and conditions of rivers and lakes make them dangerous plus the water is not healthy for swimming.

The police have purchased 100 tickets from the Songjiang Natatorium for the trial.

"We used to repeatedly warn these guys, which had little effect and caused antipathy," said Jiang Wencheng, official of Songjiang police.

"They just want to save money."

Meanwhile, the police are setting up warning signs and safety barriers by the rivers and installing life-saving equipment nearby.

Jiang is also appealing for parents to watch their children since a lot of kids have been found playing near rivers.

On Wednesday afternoon, one girl drowned while another is still missing after playing near a river in Songjiang.

No adults were present, the police said.

Many indoor swimming pools charge a moderate fee. The Shanghai Pudong Natatorium pool charges 25 yuan (US$3.70) for 1.5 hours from 12pm to 21:30pm. Smaller pools like the Sheng Jianqiang Natatorium charges 20 to 30 yuan for 1.5 hours, according to the time.

Yao Zhenzhen, a 53-year-old assistant from the Shen Jianqiang Natatorium, said the price is acceptable for common people, as the pool also offers free hot baths, swimming caps, warming-up exercises and eye drops.

"Those who prefer to swim in the river or lake would rather take off their clothes and jump into wherever there is water to cool off in the hot sun," Yao said.


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