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Sport & Recreation

Splish Splash
By Ann Gripper
Issue 6
May 13 - June 10, 2004

Feel like a dip? If you can’t wait for Moscow’s beaches to open, the time is right to visit a pool.

The Chaika swimming complex at Park Kultury boasts two open-air swimming pools, open all year round, with the water heated to a pleasant 29 degrees Celsius.

Chaika is for over-16s only (although swimming lessons are offered to children at certain times), and the lack of children combined with gentle, inoffensive music, blue sky and nearby onion domes combine for a serene swimming experience.

At times it can be a little too serene: Although there are eight lanes in the 50-meter pool, there is no clear division into different speeds. Given that many people seem to float rather than swim, it can become a little frustrating. The sun tends to heat some parts more than others, and you may find yourself zigzagging around the babushki basking in the hotspots.

Alexei Gulayev
Outdoor swimming pool: Chaika

As you soak up the sunshine, however, you quickly fall into a similar rhythm. A Sunday afternoon at Chaika is just right for a relaxing swim, but if you want to pound up and down the pool, a weekday evening may be more suitable.

Even the mysterious spravka health-certification system is relatively simple here, although the certificate you receive is only valid at Chaika. After paying for a spravka valid for one month (100 rubles) or six months (200 rubles) at the reception, it is time to visit the doctor in the basement. Having inspected your feet for fungal infections, listened to your chest and taken your blood pressure, the doctor certifies you fit to use the pool — provided you meet the requirements, of course. Whether the spravka magically protects you from bugs for the next six months is another question.

The changing area and toilets are clean, complete with lockers, hair driers and a set of scales that displays your weight on the wall for all to see. The single-sex changing rooms are open plan and the Russian pool-goers have a relaxed attitude to nudity, happily walking round the changing rooms wearing nothing but flip-flops.

You are expected to shower before going into the pool, although the request to wash with soap apparently does not include the removal of makeup. Although swimming caps are compulsory according to signs around the pool (various styles, both with and without frills and flowers, are on sale in reception), it is not rigorously enforced. There are no rules on swimwear, so swimming shorts are permitted, as are babushki swimming in their all-in-one underwear.

After your swim you can recharge your batteries in a pleasant cafe overlooking the pool, which offers freshly squeezed juices, open sandwiches and cakes.

If you don’t fancy exposing yourself to the elements, then the pool at the Olimpiisky Sports Complex awaits. The dress code is slightly stricter at Olimpiisky (swimming shorts are permitted; swimming in your underwear is banned), but you will encounter similar problems: Daytime swimming is something of a babushka slalom, whereas in the evening the pace is better, but the pool is crowded. Children are only allowed to swim on the weekends or in official swimming lessons.

The changing rooms are clean and lockers are provided.

Spravki are not available on site, but can be obtained from most doctors. As a guideline, a six-month spravka from Koopvneshtorg (13/14 Bolshoi Cherkassky Pereulok, 925-3488) costs 330 rubles.

3/1 Turganinov Per. (M. Park Kultury)
246-1344, Mon.-Sat. 7am-9:30pm, Sun. 8:30am-7pm. 350 rubles; various subscriptions also available.

Olimpiisky Sports Complex Pool
18 Olimpiisky Prospekt (M. Prospekt Mira)
786-3216, Mon.-Fri. 7am-2pm & 10pm-10:45pm, Sat. 7am-10:45pm, Sun. 7:45am-9:15pm — 120 rubles; Mon.-Fri. 6pm-10pm — 180 rubles. Subscription holders only 2pm-6pm; various subscriptions available. Family tickets available on Sun. Closed in August.

Today's Gigs
14:00 - Jazz Brunch
19:00 - Martin Landers: ambient chillout
21:00 - Disco nightly, free entry. DJ Alex Sun.-Tue., DJ Suliko Wed. & Thu., DJ Kostya Kleshch Fri. & Sat
Russian Synthpop Concert: Last Page, Inner Conflict, Fashion Suicide
Gyndul Mystei
Children's party followed by DJ Alexander Osadchy with his Funky Sunky program


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