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  • Writer's picturejeffrey zajac

hommage to Plavecký stadion Podolí

Updated: Jan 31, 2019

on one of our wednesday night walks, miroslav and i were talking about the slavic epic series of paintings done by alfons mucha, which consists of 20 large canvasses painted between 1910 and 1928 depicting the mythology and history of the czechs and other slavic peoples. miroslav noted that it has had no permanent home and was currently on exhibit in prague. i said i know the perfect home for these iconic paintings: the pool where i swim!

construction commenced on Plavecký stadion Podolí in the autumn of 1959. it opened its doors to the public on june 28, 1965. to me, it is the quientiessenial czech place. very little if any english is spoken there. state run. affordable. packed with czech families in the summer, and used all year by czechs of all stripes, and the occasional foreigner (increasingly so now).

part of the "czechness" of this place is reflected by the complicated "bodovy" system of points, which determines how much you pay for what you are doing and the length of the time it takes you to do it.

i was absolutely perplexed the first time i looked at this, but now it's cool. it makes sense, after all. without going into details, you pay for your time in a very precise manner, and the longer you stay, the cheaper it gets per time unit. i have a "permenentni" membership and locker, which means i get a computer chip watch with my locker number on it.

this watch lets me in the turnstiles and allows me to store my keys, wallet, and phone in a small locker near the front desk. and opens and closes my locker in the main locker room.

there is a 50 meter indoor pool.

and a 50 meter outdoor pool in summer, and a very popular water slide built into the side of the mountain.

but my favorite lap swimming pool anywhere in the world is the 33 meter outside pool, open all year long. in the depths of winter, you go outside in your speedo, walking 50 meters on ice in the cold, and jump in 25 degree C. water (about 78 degrees F.) . i swim my 1400 meters amid snow capped hills and feel great.

after swimming, i go inside to the cavernous medieval steam room full of a disproportionate number of intimidating looking men with pilsen urquell bellies and bodies larger than i am used to. after obtaining an excellent sweat, i go under the ice cold large head shower unit directly outside the steam room, trying to catch my breath as it falls on me, because the water is so shockingly cold and i'm so hot.

after changing, i then head out through the men's corridor and often have a moment of panic, realizing i don't have my wallet keys phone on me. then i realize that the yellow watch on my left hand will open the little door on my way out.

great place. i think mucha's slavic epic could find a home here.

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