Thursday, June 2, 2016

On swimming pools and Soviet mentality...

Long before Instagram, I used this blog to unleash my random thoughts onto the world.  Facebook is not very conducive to long posts.  So I am resurrecting this, even though I thought I'd kill it just a few months ago.

Lessons learned from going swimming in a Russian pool (or, you don’t feel Soviet until it smacks you in the face):
  1. I attempted to learn to swim in this exact pool circa 1981.  Unfortunately, it was February, and I got pneumonia almost immediately and never went back.  What I DO remember is chipped tile, dim lighting, and learning to hold my breath under water by holding onto a big stick stuck into the deep end while being yelled at by the coach.
  2. I saw a tail end of a teen swim team practice.  Coach yelling is still a constant.
  3. Until some time this century, the pool was called Khimik - which means Chemist - because it was built by the local pharmaceutical company.  Now it’s a private gym called Aquatica.
  4. Since 1981, they have added a wading pool, a yoga studio, a small gym, a necessities shop, and a cafe.
  5. They also retiled the pool and changed the traffic patterns from the changing rooms into the pool area.  However, the changing room layout is more illogical than ever, and the wall mounted hair dryers, while new, are exactly in the same awkward spot in the hallway.
  6. Russia still has some bizarre notions about health norms.  You may not join the pool without a medical release.  There’s a medic on staff.  She does a visual inspection for skin disease, and signs the release if you show her the following items:
    1. One pIece swim suit.  This requirement did not stop at least 3 women today from wearing bikinis.
    2. Swim cap.
    3. Flip Flops.
    4. Towel.
    5. A bar of soap - not body wash, but old fashioned bar of soap.
    6. A sponge.
  7. Fortunately, all of the above can be had at outrageous prices at the necessities shop.
  8. Lockers are assigned with little numbered keys on rubber arm bands.  I saw more than one person wearing theirs on the ankle.
  9. You are required to take a shower with soap and sponge before entering the pool.  Have you ever tried to put on a dry one piece racing suit on a wet body?  Good freaking luck.  I considered showering in my suit, but other women were giving me some side eye already, i did not need more.
  10. Did I mention it’s a communal shower?  I felt to be back in high school.
  11. In this pool, Russian women of all shapes, ages and sizes believe in total and complete depilation - that was a little jarring…
  12. So open swim only happens 3 times a day, for 45 min at a time.  Which means that everyone is there, supposedly, to take advantage of the short time.  Except for the 2 women who came to chat while clinging to the lane divider mid-lane, the two teens who are getting swimming lessons, and the one middle aged dude in my lane who insists on chatting up the two ladies in bikinis hanging on the lane divider...
  13. Yes of course I will do it all over again, it’s the closest pool to my house AND it was only $10 for the month!