This morning the Emil and I went swimming at Valhallabadet (Yes: we swam in Valhalla Baths. No we didn’t see any gods).
English: Valhallabadet, an indoor swimming facility in Gothenburg, Sweden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Swimming in Sweden seems a bit different from swimming in the UK, or at least, different from modern swimming in the UK. To begin with, at Valhallabadet, there are still just communal changing rooms. As in, no cubicles at all, just plain space with lockers to put your stuff away in.
Secondly, you have to have a shower before you go in the pool. A naked shower. In communal showers, with no cubicles. In the UK you’re sometimes supposed to kinda rinse down in your swimming costume before going in the pool, but that’s it. In Sweden, there are signs up everywhere commanding you to shower WITHOUT your swimming clothes before entering the pool. As far as I’m aware, in the UK public communal showers and indeed, most communal changing rooms, went out a long while ago. They’re almost unheard of these days.
Also, Valhalla Swimming baths is a massive complex. There’s a bubble pool in the changing rooms, and there’s a diving pool, a kids pool, and a 50m pool for swimming lengths, which is fantastic. Unfortunately though, only the kids pool is shallow enough to stand in. The shallowest parts of all the other pools are 1.8m minimum, which resulted in a bit of freaking from me ( I dislike deep water – nearly drowned as a kid. Took forever for me to learn to swim!)
Other slightly bizarre things I noticed: in the 50m pool, which was laned off, the lanes not only specified fast lane or ordinary exercise, but also with the ordinary exercise lane, the stroke was pre-set as breaststroke on the sign. There wasn’t a lane for Front Crawl, which seemed odd to me as I LOVE front crawl, and dislike breast-stroke – I find breast-stroke more energy intensive and slow, and find it hard to coordinate my arms and legs with it, whereas front crawl is much easier to count.
Furthermore, swimming protocol seems a bit bizarre here too. The general rules of laps being done in a specific direction are the same, but people are much readier to overtake than they are in the UK, where generally I’ve found it’s frowned upon or harder to do due to the lane widths generally being smaller. Also, the polite ‘may I’ when you come across someone waiting at the end of the pool and you want to skip in front doesn’t happen here. Odd.
In conclusion, today I learnt that not only am I terribly British when faced by nakedness and any form of queueing, but that the Swedes really are a lot less shy about public nakedness than the Brits in general. Also, Swimming’s expensive here ( 60kr for a go, but you get 4hrs) although for a 6 month pass it’s only 900kr, which means if I was to go 15 times to swim, it’d be worth buying a pass.
Also, yesterday we went bowling. This was also very strange. for me as I used to go bowling on a regular basis with friends and one of my ex-boyfriends. First off, in Sweden, you choose your own bowling shoes. Yes! Unlike in the UK, where one asks for a size and is handed shoes by a bloke who then looks after your own shoes, here you are able to choose your own shoes, and you bring your shoes and sit them next to you whilst you bowl!
Secondly, bowling here is given to you on time, so you get a 55 minute session of bowling, and as many games as you can get through in that time. We managed three and a bit. I won the first game comfortably, but Emil beat me to a pulp in the other two. Ho Hum. The fourth was merely an attempt with three minutes left to go to see how well we could do in the time!
– Strike & Co Bowling, Göteborg