40 Pools

Celebrating a Big Birthday with 40 Swims

#28: Vesturbæjarlaug

on May 30, 2012

play area of poolLocation: Reykjavik, Iceland

Configuration: 5 lanes of 25 meters + play area and 4 hot tubs

Fee: 500 ISK (Icelandic kronur), approximately $3.84

Fees to Date: $155.25

The Movie Star included directions to her neighborhood pool, Vesturbæjarlaug, in the notes she sent, which tells you both how well she understood the nature of my visit and how much Icelanders embrace their geothermally heated water. A day after I arrived, I was still sore from an action-packed weekend–kayaking in the choppy Hudson, a long pool workout, schelpping way too much stuff to and from my flight–so I wasn’t sure I wanted to go for a dip before the first day of competition. Peer pressure from Amanda and the knowledge that this pool was so close by after we returned “home” from our daylong Golden Circle tour proved too much to resist. Plus, I knew there would be hot tubs, or hot pots as per local parlance.

Amanda in a hot pot

The short swim and soak turned out to have a pleasant muscle-loosening effect, and it was also helpful to preview the local customs:

  • Scan your entry receipt in the turnstile for access to the locker room.
  • Take off your shoes before you enter the locker room.
  • Use the key provided for the locker–no need to have schlepped that lock all the way across the Atlantic.
  • Wash thoroughly before putting on your bathing suit and entering the pool area.
  • Be prepared for warm water, even in the lap pool.
  • Listen for gossip in the hot pots.
  • After your swim and shower, dry off while still in the shower area.
  • Laug means pool or bath. Sundlaug is specifically a swimming pool.

The hot pots were packed, and the rest of the facility was well used but not as popular. There were three different temperature options and a variety of depths among the four pots total, with helpful signs so you could freshen up on your understanding of Celsius.

floatin'I didn’t see a lifeguard at first but then realized he/she/they were in a fully enclosed structure on the far side. The pool is open all year round, even through the chilly and dark winter, after all.

What struck me here most was how nicely integrated the pool is into the surrounding neighborhood. People of all ages mixed and mingled. There were small groups of teenagers on their own, families with young children, solo swimmers, and friends like me and Amanda. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–a good pool makes for a good community.

One response to “#28: Vesturbæjarlaug

  1. […] all good. People were remarkably relaxed about pool entry and use. No full-body scrubdowns as in Iceland, no full-body searches for contraband as at NYC outdoor pools, no restrictions on food, photos, or […]

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