Sunday, April 22, 2012

Swimming Lessons

 Yesterday I went for a swim at one of the public pools near us, for the first time since September, and remembered why I haven't been swimming since September. I just don't get it, but Germans don't lap swim like we do, and it frustrates me beyond belief! On the pool schedule it very specifically said "Bahnenschwimmen", "lap swimming." So I pictured some kind of order for more serious swimmers. But no lane lines! And I was the only one swimming front crawl and/or doing flip turns. Everyone was swimming breast stroke. Which is not only slow, but you take up way more space and kick out towards the people next to you. So when there are no lane lines, and the whole ordeal involves swimming around people, it's even harder. I felt like I was doing open-water swimming, because I constantly had to poke my head up and make sure I wasn't going to get kicked by breast-strokers or ram anyone. Well, when I started doing my laps, and throwing in some butterfly, I think people moved away from me towards the other side of the pool. So I did end up getting some space and it was okay, but I wish there were some lanes and some circle swimming. Is that too much to ask?
This is what I am talking about: breast-stroke-swimming Germans
Once, a few years back, I was at a pool where a mom was teaching her kid how to swim. And she was teaching him breast stroke! I just thought it was so strange. I taught a lot of swim lessons, and in the US we teach kids front crawl first: making them put their head under and learn how to breathe, which they hate. I was thinking about it... I suppose breast stroke is easier to teach if your goal is just to stay on top of the water, not to swim efficiently. I wish someone could explain this breast stroke thing to me.
This photo above is the Stadtbad Neukölln, also not too far from me. I want to try to go this week. It looks so beautiful. It was built 1914 and is largely preserved how it looked then. They have a big and a small pool, at the time one for women and one for men. I was looking at the schedule and noticed something very German and very Neukölln/Kreuzberg: They have one special hour for women in the sauna, the rest are mixed. There is also one swimming time just for Muslim women. Also, note on the website to the right for a Kreuzberg pool, they allow "Burkinis" during the women's swim time. I had to google it to see what it looked like...
And...(here's the German bit) Neukölln they have 4.5 hrs a week for "FKK" swimming, or swimming in the nude. You'd never see that in the US in a public pool!
P.S. I signed up for the Berlin Triathlon (June 3), so now I have to start swimming again!


  1. Jetzt, aufbrechen nicht eine Umdrehung!!

  2. it never ceases to amaze me how much I learn from you :) does Germany keep cranking out the wonderful Olympic swimmers from those oval pools without lane lines?!

    Good luck in the triathlon - you make me so proud!!!
    love you,

    ...Uncle Reed says hi - he doesn't blog...

  3. Well, the more serious swimmers train in clubs, and they have lane lines and do flip turns. But I don't really want to commit to joining a club right now. My theory is that the US has more amateur swimmers that are able to do flip turns and front crawl. I guess Germans who swim to stay in shape do breast stroke. So strange! :) You're the one who made me a swimmer, Julie! I always think of you when I'm in the pool!

  4. I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information.