Energy Crunch Swimming Cycles: Now It’s Cold

Swimming sessions in an energy crisis

Now it’s cold

Sunday 22 September 09 | 12:14 PM | to Anna Bourdl

picture: DBA / Patrick Larroque

It did not exist in the last couple of years: swimming courses in the halls of pools in Berlin. It starts again this winter – but in cooler waters due to the gas crunch. There are still a lot of children interested. Written by Anna Bordel

At Stadtbad Schöneberg, the jacuzzi, paddling pool, waterslide and outdoor pool will all remain closed until further notice. In other swimming pools, such as in Lankwitz and Spreewaldplatz, such “attractions”, as stated on the Berliner Bäderbetriebe (BBB) ​​website, cannot at present be presented. The reason for this is the Senate’s energy-saving measures, pool spokeswoman Claudia Blankinagel said when asked by RBB.

Indoor pools will be open as usual this fall, but the pools will only be heated to 26 degrees. This is between two and four degrees lower than normal operation. Because in some pools, such as in Schöneberg, all pools are connected to the same water circuit, individual pools cannot be heated separately, according to pool companies. “26 degrees—that’s not cool. It’s a question of type, whether you like it or not. If you’ve been swimming regularly, 26 degrees will definitely work for you,” Blankinagel says. For young children, it is still so cold that at least in Schöneberg it is not possible to splash at the moment.

Learning to swim is by no means easier due to the cold water temperatures – quite the contrary.

Manuel Kobitz, Managing Director of the Berlin Swimming Association

Learning to swim doesn’t get easier in cold water

Manuel Kobitz, managing director of the Berlin Swimming Association, sees things differently. “26 degrees sounds relatively warm, but it’s cold even for a competitive athlete.” The cooler water temperature is also an obstacle for kids, says Kobitz. Kids don’t move all the time in swimming lessons, things need to be explained to them, and they have to wait for their turn. “Learning to swim is by no means easier because of the cold water temperatures – on the contrary,” says Kobitz.

Much of the swimming lesson depends on the swimming instructor. “The coach should keep an eye on the kids,” says Kobitz. “There are physical characteristics that indicate hypothermia: blue lips, tremors, especially in children who have little subcutaneous fatty tissue.” You can be sure to keep the kids moving a little more. If it no longer works, send them to a warm shower to warm them up again. “But once they’ve bathed in warm water, it’s very difficult to put them back in cold water,” says Kobitz.

The share of non-swimmers more than doubled

There are a particularly large number of children who would like to learn to swim at the moment. According to the Senate Education Department, before the pandemic, the no-swimming rate among children in Berlin was less than 17 percent, compared to 35 percent last April. In the past two winters, due to the pandemic, there was no chance of attending a swimming course.

There were also fewer people interested in swimming in swimming clubs. “We lost 17 percent of members due to the coronavirus pandemic, including a particularly large number of young members. One federal state lost more places,” says Martin Kubitz of the Swimming Federation in Berlin. It’s been increasing again for a few months, but it’s still far from the level it was before. “So it can be assumed that many children have not learned to swim in recent years because we have not had a natural run,” says Kobitz.

Fewer courses due to lack of teachers

Not only is the water cool at the swim course, but the range of courses offered by Berlin’s pools is also not back to pre-pandemic level. “Swimming courses are being offered again, but not in the same number as before the pandemic,” Blankinagel said of the baths. This is mainly due to the lack of swimming coaches. He added, “During the Corona period, the swimming pool companies did not offer any courses, and during this time the swimming coaches from external service providers searched for other jobs. Now we are facing a problem in bringing the offer back to the old level.” According to Blankennagel, 50 to 60 percent of courses can currently be offered. On September 20-21, the online portals of the Berlin Baths will be activated, through which courses can be booked – as long as there are places available.

Even in swimming clubs, there is not enough capacity to cover the high demand. “The demand for swimming courses is always very high,” says Kobitz. “The waiting lists at the clubs are very full, and there are over 100 kids on the club lists.” According to him, this is not due to the lack of teachers, but to the lack of surface water and the limited number of swimming pools.

A wetsuit as a quick fix?

Babies and toddlers don’t have to do without spraying everywhere this winter. In the swimming and jumping hall at Europasportpark in Prenzlauer Berg, kids can continue to bathe in the warmth because the pool is connected to the treatment pool circuit there, where it is still warm by 32 degrees, according to Blankennagel.

However, this makes this pool the highest energy consumption in the city: 10.3 million kilowatt-hours are consumed annually there, the Senate and bathing companies announced in response to a parliamentary request from the CDU. According to the Senate, the small children’s pool in Monbijoupark consumes the least amount of energy at 63,000 kWh. According to the Senate, it will be an important point in the next few years to renovate swimming pools so that they require less energy. Solar systems are already being used on the rooftops of outdoor swimming pools in Mariendorf, Kreuzberg, Bankow, Spandau Sud and Gropiusstadt.

The short-term solution this fall and winter for those interested in swimming could be a wetsuit for the time being. “I just bought one now, because I get cold easily,” Blankinagle says. This has been used for a long time in children’s swimming courses, and now a warm bathing suit is likely to be more popular among adults.

Broadcast: rbb24 Inforadio, August 11, 2022, at 10 am

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