“Above water”: football and swimming (

After swimming in the Georg-Arnhold-Bad, watching football in Dresden’s Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion is also fun.

Photo: IMAGO / Torsten Becker

Above us, steel arches span a vaulted hall, black bell lamps hang from them, and a station clock hangs on the wall. My old friend S. leans against the overflow edge of the diving pool and watches teenagers jumping. Candle, Köpper, belly flop. A lifeguard monitors what is happening at the three-meter tower. Next to it, a lined path is being plowed through in butterfly style, with two women bobbing outside. I’ve completed my workload and am swimming over to S. We’ve known each other since we were seventeen. Despite almost forty years of friendship, it is our first visit to the swimming pool together, we went straight from the train station to the nearby bathing and sauna world Sign. We’re actually here because of the football, we personally follow the club in our hometown from time to time through the 2nd Bundesliga.

After swimming in the Georg-Arnhold-Bad, watching football in Dresden's Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion is also fun.

After swimming in the Georg-Arnhold-Bad, watching football in Dresden’s Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion is also fun.

Photo: IMAGO / Torsten Becker

I swim a lot longer than I go to soccer. My partner in life has been addicted to soccer since childhood. In the first few weeks of our relationship, I didn’t realize how much—at least when he left me at home with our baby and lumbago to go to an Old Lady game, I realized the extent of it. I forgave him, years later I chauffeured our son to Zehlendorf or Marzahn and stood at Berolina Mitte’s place when he or his father played. Got to know paradise in Jena, drove to Luckenwalde, Rathenow or Fürstenwalde if there was a lake or river nearby. In Rostock I went to the Neptunhalle, he to the Ostseestadion. In Rijeka, the sea was more attractive than going to a game.

At some point I got loud, wild – I got the football fever. We were traveling and I wanted both the stadium and the swimming pool. The peak was reached at the end of October 2015. I got nervous in the outdoor pool of the Georg-Arnhold-Bad at Dresden’s Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion. I wanted to be there when my club’s team rolled in and changed venues. Beamed at the blue and white gusset singing loudly out of a black and yellow sea. Jumped up when we scored and roared. My wet hair hung over the edge of the stands and dripped into the choreo. Since then it has to be both, my favorites are stadiums near the sea, like Split, Thessaloniki, Cádiz or Gibraltar.

Bielefeld. We’re working through a list of pubs that Arminia friends sent us, dated home port (awful local drink »Jämmerling«, very nice people) about them Onion (only hostility because of our reason for travel) to Plan-B (delicious Mexicans, nice student with Arminia season ticket) and get a tour of Puddingtown on Sunday morning before the game, scrape off identity stickers and join the midday beer drinkers until the blue-white-black stream spills us into the pretty stadium. The sun is shining, the fans of 1. FC Magdeburg are wonderfully loud, but we can’t sing along.

On the third goal conceded and with an Arminia scarf waving wildly in my face, I wonder if we sunk our luck yesterday when my locker key tumbled down after a silly squabble in the diving pool? But a friendly man fetched the key from the 3.80 meter deep ground and S. applauded – Bielefeld and we were a super team. Or? I get sick, I think of the sardine in Jämmerling and promptly the goal comes much too late.



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