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Living in a densely populated urban environment can often mean sacrificing nature, at least the immediately accessible variety. But city planners know how to placate the huddled masses with just a enough taste of the good stuff. Parks replace forests. Sidewalks stand in the stead of hiking trails. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a primo public pool that makes up for the fact you’re many miles and work hours away from the beach. The ones below really go above and beyond the call of civic duty.
Water Cube: Beijing, China
If you tuned into the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, you’re familiar with the massive space formally known as the National Aquatics Center. Following the Games, the space was transformed into a water park that now features water rides, slides, and a wave pool. The regulation-sized competition pool remains. And while you don’t need to be an olympian to use it, it requires you pass a physical exam before testing out your backstroke.
Badeschiff: Berlin, Germany
Don’t feel like swimming in the River Spree unprotected? Us neither. Take shelter in the Badeschiff, which suspends a clean floating pool from its shores, offering the experience of floating in the middle of a city without any of its drawbacks. Commissioned by the City Art Project Society, Badeschiff (translation: “bathing ship”) was converted out the hull of an unused vessel. To sweeten the deal, there’s even a miniature man-made beach and a bar. Danke schoen.
Sea Point Swimming Pool: Cape Town, South Africa
Open all year, the Sea Point Swimming Pool has been overlooking the Atlantic since the 1950s, when it was constructed. With water sourced from the adjacent ocean, you can expect for a brisk swim.
Kitsilano Pool: Vancouver, Canada
So big you can practically see it from space (okay, not really, but it’s big), the Kitsilano Pool is three times longer than your average Olympic grade. The pool is a public space gem, with views of Vancouver’s dynamic assets, from city skylines to mountain ranges.
Bondi Icebergs Club: Sydney, Australia
A Bondi Beach landmark for over 100 years, the Bondi Icebergs Club was founded so that swimmers could enjoy the waters of the Pacific year-round. Founded in 1929, the pool is open to the public. To be a member, however, tests a different type of mettle, requiring mandatory Sunday swims no matter the weather and 75 total trips over the course of five years.
Széchenyi Thermal Bath: Budapest, Hungary
Get your pooltime on like a king. Flanked on all sides by palatial Neo-baroque buildings in a punchy yellow, the century-old pool is the largest medicinal bath in all of Europe, with water supplied by two thermal springs and packed with sulphate, calcium, magnesium, and other minerals that do a body good.
Photos courtesy of Wikipedia, Mondoarc.com, Residentadvisor.net, Virgin Atlantic, Huffington Post, Erininthelioncity.com.