I swim a lot. It's like meditaion. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath, Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath. Rhythm and symmetry. Like music.
A swimming pool tells us a lot about a country. Take the French charming ones with the small private boxes for changing, or the perfectly organized but sometimes boring German ones with mixed nude sauna for men and women, or the Swedish one in the suburb where I grew up, with the water slide and the 25 meter pool where I played and swam as a child, claiming the "Simborgarmärket", a reward for being able to swim 200 metres.
I like the Italian piscine, where it's mandatory for everyone to wear a cuffia, a bathing cap, in order to keep clean (because the Italians are, in a strange way, the uncrowned cleanliness specialists of Europe). Or - recently discovered - the modern architechtural landmarks of rich cities in countries like Switzerland and Luxembourg.
By the way: the price for an indoor swim also tells us something about the politics of a country - not necessarily connected to the general price level of the country, but rather a representative of the philosophy behind the structure of a society, or the political agenda of a city - privatized and expensive in some places, or solidarily subsidized in others. Does your country care about its citizens and their well-being?
There are, of course, contrasts in all aspects of life, not only in the interesting field of swimming pools. And when you've experienced one thing which is new for you and changes your horizon for good, the old experineces will never be the same again, the new ones adding to the variety of experience. I thought this thought when I went through the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam last week - after seeing the Rembrandts, no other portrait remains the same. There were, of course, excellent contemporaries of his. But no-one like Rembrandt: don't ask me how, but he manages to make his protagonists incredibly real, their personalities glowing through their faces. How can someone paint with oil on a plain piece of canvas, and achieve something like this? Giving us, the audience, the inceredible feeling that we already know the people on the pictures, that we feel the depth in their personalities through barely watching them? What a power art has! And how revealing it is. The clear wrinkles of age. The history of another human being, written on his or her face. Traces left, like waves of sand on a seabed, clearly visible through the azzurro-blue water.