Swimming for Putney- Prague
A few glorious autumn days in Prague. As elsewhere first must come the swim. Which means the majestic Plavecky stadio Podoli. A ten minute tram ride from the centre. Now the commies may have been pretty poor on human rights and chickens in the pot but when it came to building swimming pools,none like them. Two 50 metre pools one inside one out and one 33 metre outside, hot tubs, steam rooms, nothing too good for the honest working man. . In 1965 when it was built complete with 5000 seat grandstand, this was created for the new man and new woman. Hurrah.
Towering above the outside pool, a magnificent three tier high diving board. I can see the new man in his speedos poised,hail the noon day sun, his arms outstretched, in touch with the future, the inevitable triumph,the great helmsman,the perfect dive. As one the crowd in the stand rise and cheer.
Hail the Soviets, Hail the Working Class, Hail the Party that makes us strong. Somethings don’t change, the dream lives on. The day I swum outside the temperature in the air was 14 and in the pool 26, only one degree lower than the inside pool. With so much swimming space on offer, room enough to splash.
Serious swimming only,no shallow end which means no children.The next difference is of course the amount of nakedness in the changing room. No one seems to be in hurry to change. Is this some left over from the under employment that went on under the Commies. Aimless nude men wandering around,sitting around, some wearing glasses some with nothing. Some kind of civil disobedience. They pretend we support them, we pretend to dress.
Thinking Eastern Europe I come up with Samovar Man. He has a round tummy and just out of the pool a little willie. Samovar man. Later I read that in some of the steam rooms male prostitutes are not unknown. It was not like that under the Soviets. Niet. Then we swum , reached for the stars and no handski pantkski. Maybe wearing glasses is a code,like wearing a handkerchief in your back pocket.
After the laps a quick sit in the hot tub with its throbbing jets. I notice one or two older ladies legs are apart with beaming smiles on their faces. Hail the New Woman. My child bride says this could be unhygienic. So are so many of the finer things of life. Who cares?
It was good to see that the pilsner that made Prague famous was for sale in the cafeteria. What else after a few laps? I resisted as we were to cross the river and eat in the state of the art Food and Wine factory which under the commies made exhaust pipes for Skoda but now has been converted into an organic, whole food supermarket and eatery which makes star kissed quality grub for Czech foodies.
The post commie Czech may have forgotten how to swim but he/she sure knows how to eat.