Gyms and sports centres may be closed, but swimming outdoors is still possible, and more pools are now opening their outside facilities to the general public.
Until recently the Mirandabad in Amsterdam had been the only pool to remain open for outdoor swimming but its popularity is such that many local regulars have not been able to bag a spot.
‘I‘m not very happy about all the publicity because people from all over are coming and that means we are being pushed out,’ one swimmer told DutchNews.nl.
The good news for Amsterdammers is that the Noorderpark pool opened its doors on Monday, although at the moment of writing the queue for making a reservation had already risen to 342.
Some six pools in other regions, including the Aquacentrum in Den Helder, De Hoorn in Alphen aan de Rijn and De Kromme Nije in Krommenie have also opened or are in the process of doing so.
‘The pools have to be filled with water and that is a slow business,’ account manager Irma Duim of the Dutch swimming association KNZB told broadcaster NOS. ‘It has to go centimetre by centimetre otherwise the tiles crack. And then you have to heat it and put the right amount of chlorine in.’
Pools have to conform to a strict protocol which has to be approved by the council and the safety authorities. Swimmers can’t use the changing rooms, for instance, and they have to keep their distance in the lanes. Each swimmer is allowed an hour’s swim.
‘We are increasing the chlorine requirement up to the maximum allowed so we can be sure that if an infected swimmer goes into the water the virus won’t survive,’ Duim said.
There are some 80 pools with outdoor facilities in the Netherlands. ‘Some six have opened, as far as we know but the more pools open, the less people will have to travel. The best thing would be to have an open outdoor pool in every region,’ Duim said.
Not all pools want to open because they feel it will help spread coronavirus and because they are concerned for the safety of their staff. But, the swimming pool association said, swimming is a great and safe way to keep moving, particularly for people who have underlying conditions.