Students applying to one of China’s most prestigious universities have been told they must learn to swim before they graduate.
Tsinghua University, known as the Harvard of the East, has ruled that the nation’s top minds must also prove themselves in the pool.
The news made waves on Chinese social media, with some questioning the move in a country struggling with drought.
But the university said swimming was a key survival skill.
President of Tsinghua University, Qiu Yong, said the exercise was made compulsory for all students because it also improved physical fitness.
One of China’s most highly regarded institutions, Tsinghua University first made swimming a requirement in 1919, but it was later dropped due to the university’s popularity and a lack of swimming pools in Beijing.
However, under the rules announced on Monday, new students beginning in September will have to take the plunge and demonstrate that they can swim at least 50m (164ft) using any stroke.
The announcement has been hotly debated on social media, with some questioning whether it is reasonable to expect those who grew up in inland cities to learn how to swim as adults.
“What happens to students from arid places that have no seaside or rivers?” wrote Yixunsangyao.
Another commenter, Xishuoge, wrote: “Even though it is a ‘famous university’, it shouldn’t make up arbitrary rules, as such rules could snuff out talents.”
Others, such as Shin-ssi, praised the university for promoting a “necessary skill which can save lives”, adding: “It’s a good thing for the university to emphasise this.”
Those who appeared pleased with their own abilities to swim, made light of the announcement, asking if they could enrol as students at Tsinghua University.
Director of Tsinghua University’s physical education department, Liu Bo, said the policy had previously ended due to an increase in enrolment and lack of facilities, but said it was time to revive the “essential survival skill” and get people exercising, the state-run Global Times reported.
If students fail an initial test, the race is on for them to learn to swim before graduation.