First it's hot, then it's cold. It's always a bit difficult to ascertain the role that a public swimming pool plays today. When I was younger I spent most of my time at Sydenham Pool, jumping off the high dive board and belly-flopping onto my back when trying to do my first somersault while other daredevil kids, the teenagers who seemed so much older and cooler, did backflips nonchalantly and chilled with all the girls. As time passed I didn't do any of those things anymore, the public pool held no draw for me and I'd eaten too many sweets from the tuckshop at the bottom of the hill. It didn't make sense but it had become irrelevant.
The other day I happened by the Linden Pool and was intrigued to see how the other side lived. This part of town is still pretty foreign to me and I wanted to know what it was all about. There are still the entrance fees, R12 for general access, and the old school changing rooms equipped with showers still have signs still written in Afrikaans, which must mean it's been around for a while, but as I stepped out I noticed something quite different from what I knew to be a public pool. It's indoors and it's heated.
As soon as you enter, you feel like you're involved in something very different from what you know to be a public pool. At least that's how it was for me. The smell, for one thing, is amazing. It's that aroma of chemical heat and the undercover temple being baked in the sun that catches you off guard and makes you feel like getting your body wet, opening your gills and feeling your fins stretch out of your skin that draws you in closer and holds you for a while. It lets you reassess things, swimming, an exercise I've always preferred to actual physical labour. To be liquid is to be like the water itself, zen and tranquil.
The Linden Pool offers you everything that a public space should: open grass areas to sit and relax on, an outdoor baby pool and finally, the main attraction in the middle that you can use at any time of the year. It feels professional and personal all at once and I've got a feeling that its popularity will never wane.
Swimming season starts on 1 September and activities on offer include water aerobics. Call 011 025 8009 for more info.
Where? Corner 11th Street and Fourth Avenue, Linden
General Access: R12
Photographs by Affricanalien
by Daniel McCaughtry