I love swimming and as a late starter (I learned to swim when I was thirty), it is my favourite form of exercise but swimming in a Danish swimming pool can throw up some daunting cultural differences if you come from more modest countries such as the UK or the US.
I recently started swimming at Øbro-Hallen in Østerbro. This is a beautiful art deco swimming pool and I am really enjoying it. I am used to how swimming pool changing rooms work so I wasn’t flustered by the sixty year old, completely naked lady who struck up a conversation with me in the shower whilst I was also starkers.
Generally there are only a few private changing cubicles in the changing rooms (and this varies from swimming baths, as Øbro Hallen is pretty well served on this front) but in general swimmers are happy to get changed in the open areas with benches by the lockers and will walk around naked very happily (don’t panic the changing areas are single sex).
One thing I notice is how clean the changing rooms are especially compared to ones I remember in the UK and Berlin. You don’t find strange things stuck to your feet! One of the reasons for this is the strict hygiene rules in the pools here and the life guards are not slow in telling you if you have obviously not followed them, the common misdemeanour is obviously dry hair. Although the rules are prominently displayed, they are often in Danish so I thought I’d do a quick rundown of the hygiene rules here.
- Persons suffering from infectious diseases, diarrhoea, colds, sore throats, ear infections, skin inflammation or other infectious diseases, especially skin fungus and foot warts, may not use the swimming facility.
- Pools and sauna may only be used after thorough washing with soap. All shampooing must be without swimwear. After shampooing rinse thoroughly. The rule also applies to hair – alternatively you must use a bathing cap.
- After using the toilet made further thorough washing with soap and rinsing.
- Bathers must wear a complete and clean swimsuits. Underwear must not be worn under swimwear.
Some other tips
In many of Copenhagen’s public swimming baths there is a sauna that is available to all users, at no extra charge, and many have spa and sauna facilities that you pay extra for.
There are many ways to save money on your swim. There is the opportunity for clippers where you pay for a number of swims up front and save on each swim, a monthly pass or swimming during the green Time (grøn tid) usually up to 3pm, where the swim could be half price. It is worth working out how frequently you plan to swim to see which is the best deal for you. There is also baby swimming offered in most pools and it is well worth signing up for this even if your Danish isn’t great.