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It’s Sommerbad season!

Open-air swimming pools are well worth the investment, says Brian Starbuck

Two years ago I read an article about how Germany is spending too much on infrastructure. Airports were mentioned. Apparently, every city has a nice new one, and I can confirm that the ones at Leipzig-Halle and Dresden are excellent.

The article also criticised the number of water theme parks being built. Not being much of a fan of theme parks I rather agreed with the tone, suggesting that money could be better spent elsewhere. Once I started thinking about it though, I realised they also meant the Sommerbad or Freibad, those outdoor open air swimming pools that are a feature of many German towns. Many of those in the east, where we go on holiday, have been rebuilt in recent years. In my opinion, this is taxpayers money very well spent.

I want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to councils in Germany for building and maintaining these places – they are wonderful. A few years ago we went to a spectacular Sommerbad in Zeitz (about 50km from Leipzig) complete with slides and fountains, but I want to pay a special tribute to a much smaller one further east in Rochlitz.

Rochlitz is a quiet town on the river Zwickau and it has the most wonderful Freibad not far from the river. Set in well-kept grounds with trees and flower beds, the unpretentious buildings are spotlessly clean and well maintained. The same goes for the large swimming and diving pool. There is small pool for tiny children and parents and other sports facilities nearby. Also plenty of grass for picnics and seating with tables around the pool.

We have been visiting this part of Germany for ten years now and usually go to the Rochlitz Freibad several times each year. The kiosk serves home-made ice cream – pear and elderflower are favourites – and snacks and drinks. It is a great value place to relax and spend the day in and out of the pool.

We were shocked to read last year that a few weeks before our visit, the Zwickau river had burst its banks and flooded the lower part of the town and the pool. Many local people rallied around the indomitable Schwimmeister Andreas, to clean out all the mud, repair the damage and restore the pool and its surroundings to their former glory. The people there are right to treasure this fantastic place, we are privileged to visit. Long live public support and investment in pleasures we can all enjoy!

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