On the politics of swimming in Bergen

Recently, I have started swimming on regular basis in Bergen. I started in an outside pool when it was till summer, then moved on to an inside pool when the weather changed. The facilities were better so I ended up taking a yearly pass, and here I am to break down to you the untold rules of swimming places in Bergen.

Of course, the must in Norway is to swim in the sea! In Bergen, you don’t really have other ways to go in than to actually jump straight in as it’s pretty much rocks and depths. For me it’s a bit challenging as 1) I don’t like jumping 2) I don’t like not being able to touch the ground 3) I need to see what’s underneath or I freak out. And the sea is quite deep and dark there! I tried it once, I felt like my heart was going to freeze because it was so cold but, as the Norwegian friend who encouraged me to jump told me, « it’s pretty nice today! ». So that was an experience, but I left it there, I don’t know if I’ll ever do that again, unless during a very very hot day.

View from Nordnes park, where a lot of people go to swim during the summer, on a sunny day

I then moved on to the outside swimming pool in the Nornes park, called Nordnes Sjøbad. It has a big changing room, a quite small swimming pool where one lane is reserved for pure exercise and the rest for leisure and kids fighting with water, as well as a tiny sauna that is nice to experience after a good effort. As they closed at the end of summer to adapt the place to the winter season, when it’s open more rarely and more for fun than training, I had to move to another place but it was a great experience and I’ll definitely come back once it’s open more often.

From the website: https://nordnessjobad.no/

It is where I discovered that people in Norway really don’t care about changing naked in front of everyone else in the changing room. As French people seem to want to preserve their privacy at all costs when it comes to nakedness in public, except to grill some boobs on the beach, I was quite taken aback! Shot, tall, waxed, hairy, old, young, pregnant, muscular, thin, no one cares, and that is AMAZING. I never felt so free and comfortable as when I started undressing in front of a bunch of women to go swim and exercise. I think this habit is great.

I continued doing so when I moved on to Ado Arena, the big covered swimming pool at Bergen bus station. hey have a bigger sauna that you can find on each changing room after the showers, on both male and female sides. So I started also enjoying being surrounded by many more women, and enjoy a naked sauna after swimming. It’s big, clean and comfortable. There are also a lot of kids, and I find that great that they get to see so many different naked bodies before reaching bodies, as it might show them that all types of bodies exist.

What such a sauna looks like.
Image by Patricia York on Pixabay.

Of course, a bigger place means more people and more people mean having to exercise in a smart way. There is a big 50 meters long pool that is split, one half for school students and professionals in training, the other for people like me who are just looking for a nice and peaceful workout. But in that section too, it’s quite divided. If you take the first and second lanes, it’s for people who are not swimming like crazy and take their time. The further you go in the lanes, the faster it gets. I prefer to stick to the first lane by laziness, but am often forced to go to the second because it’s way too slow for me. It takes a lot of calculation and organization sometimes to swim, but everyone is quite attentive and careful. When you’re in a lane a long time with the same people, there is kind of a rhythm that appears and it’s part of the fun.

Taken from the website: https://adoarena.no/en/

I didn’t know that part of Bergen before and having a non agressive physical activity was becoming urgent so I’m happy with the outcome, and was happy to share with y’all!

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