Belgium conducts a general prohibition policy, unique in Europe and far beyond. Open water is not treated as public space. The swimmer does not have the same freedom of movement as the walker, runner, or cyclist. Worse: it is often allowed to do all kinds of water sports, but swimming is prohibited. In principle, it is only permitted in specially equipped places, with lifeguards, changing rooms, showers, toilets, etc.)
Such policies are part of municipal police codes and regional environmental regulations, such as VLAREM in Flanders. Since October 2019, VLAREM makes an exemption for diving and long-distance swimming, which are both permitted without infrastructure, if swimmers use a buoy, someone is present with notions of rescue, and their club negotiated with location owners that the water can be used for training purposes. The clubs must register with the authorities. This situation is still a long way from where we want to be. Today not all swimmers are equal before the law.
Read our arguments for change. There is another way. Look at our Dutch neighbours.
Wet Life Matters!