Soviet Swimming

1999 > Russia

A country of lakes & rivers, and Russians can’t swim

15 July, 1999

Going Swimming

By Nick

Everything here is the same. No new crisis’s, plenty of food and very few
terrorist bombings. The weather is extremely hot and probably set a heat
record. Many people drowned each weekend in Moscow trying to get out of the
heat. I think they averaged 20 people a weekend for the four weeks of intense
heat. It appears that most Russian children do not get formal swimming training
and then when they become adults, get drunk and eat a big meal they like
to do swimming. Well as you can guess this does not make for good swimming.
Fortunately, I did not know anyone who drowned.

I had a funny experience the other day. In order to escape the heat I got
real drunk, ate a lot of food and then wanted to go swimming (joke). So I
went to this swimming pool and asked if I could buy a ticket. They told me
where the cashier was. I asked the cashier and see wanted to see my “doctor’s
permission slip”. I of course did not have one. So I was told that I would
have to go to the doctor and one happened to be in the building. (Nice
coincidence, huh?)

After arriving at the doctor’s I was told to pay $1. I took the money out
of my pocket but the doctor refused to take it. They said I had to go back
to the cashier and pay. I travelled back to the cashier and wanted to pay
the $1 but the cashier said there was a special cashier for the doctor. (Starting
to get an idea of the Soviet system?) I finally found the doctor, paid my
$1 and went back to the doctor. When I arrived there was a line to be seen
by the doctor. Everyone in line, all Russians of course, thought the system
was stupid but the doctors and pool thought it was normal.

After 20-30 in line the doctor saw me. The doctor asked me to show her my
legs (to see if they were dirty) and then she listened to my heart (to see
if it worked). She decided that everything was okay and she wrote me a permission
slip. I know that I only paid $1 but after standing in that line I thought
she would at least check me for a hernia. No such luck. I took my permission
slip to the cashier, got a ticket and went swimming. If it were not for the
fact that most of the women were topless at the pool (nice surprise) then
the experience would not have been worth it. Well I guess you have to get
your pleasures were you can.