This week summer returned to us for one glorious, sweaty, sunny day. I immediately packed my backpack and went to the nearest outdoor pool. The tragedy of Mainz is that there are no swim-able bodies of water close by. And don’t suggest I swim in the Rhein. Though many of my friends who do so enthusiastically tell me that “it’s a lot cleaner than it used to be,” I still am not willing to put my health in the hands of the Nestle factory upstream.
When I lived in the United States we would drive a little over a half an hour to a beautiful out-of-the-way beach on Lake Sacandaga. There were rarely ever any other swimmers, and the water wasn’t overly murky. (When swimming in murky lakes I am always overcome with paranoia that something I can’t see is swimming just beneath me, about to grab my leg and pull me under.) There was nothing on the banks of the lake besides trees and sparsely spaced houses.
Now I don’t consider driving a half an hour to get anywhere close or reasonable. Not to mention the fact that I do not own a car and am technically not legal to drive in Germany because of infuriating beaucracry details. There are several lakes that could be reached by a combination of trains and bikes, but with train prices what they are, getting to them and back would cost me at least twice the 3 euro entrance fee at the local pool, which I can walk to in fifteen minutes. And so it’s to the local pool that I go.
It’s a pleasant place, if not often crowded, with reasonably priced French fries and water less chlorinated than what comes out of the tap in most American cities. There are two run-of-the-mill square pools—one about waist deep, one about three meters deep—a slide, and a small round pool with waves. And if you’re quick and careful, the heated pool and whirlpools are just a fence jump away.