Above water: Paradise in Prinzenbad

Above water: Paradise in Prinzenbad

Place of peace and longing: the modular swimming pool in the Prinzenbad

Photo: image/Funke Photo Services

Happy! Startled, I lift my head out of the water and look forward over the edge of the pool, where the noise must have come from. The lifeguard in his cabin raises his hand apologetically, leaves it in the air – and sneezes again. Above water it sounds normal or harmless. I smile at him, turn and let myself float on my back. The water is warm and I have the lane all to myself.

Monday lunchtime, beginning of October, bridge day in Berlin. It feels like a summer day, we’ll soon have reached 25 degrees. At seven in the evening it is already dark and quickly becomes cold, something is wrong. My overall perception. Everything is different. I do not smoke anymore. For three weeks, on Thursday it will be four. I stopped drinking beer out of shock, but only for a week. Now I feel dizzy more often and there is a terribly strong smell everywhere. Have young men always perfumed themselves so strongly? Don’t snack bars generally smell unpleasant? Has the Spree had this musty smell for a long time?

Princess Bath Real Life DOKU Film Berlin Kreuzberg accompanies young people for a year

Doku/Dokusoap TV

“Well, you little freak!” shouts a shrill voice in my head. To get in the mood for my October visit to the Kreuzberg summer pool, I watched the documentary “Prinzessinnenbad” by Bettina Blümner and zapped to the outdoor pool scenes. The three fifteen-year-olds who are followed by the camera for months in the 2007 feature-length film often go to the Kreuzberg summer pool, called “Prinzenbad”. They joke around, chew gum, smoke (luckily it looks disgusting) and call boys all sorts of things.

I lie on my back and drift the last bit towards the end of the track, my new neoprene shorts are tight and keep me afloat like a balloon. Dong, a hand caught my foot, the backstroker is pulling past me, an annoyed look. Of course, you can’t bob around here, I throw myself around and turn, swim breaststroke. The suit pinches everywhere, especially I can’t move my shoulders as usual, water is now getting into the short sleeves. My forehead is cold, I think of swimming friend Dirk’s warning words to wear a swimming cap in autumn!

Above water

Photo: private

Anne Hahn is the author of novels and non-fiction books and swims the waters of the world for “nd”.

The 50-meter sports pool in Germany’s most popular outdoor swimming pool, which has been unheated since October, is full. A leg hits me from the off-leash side, and behind me a swimmer snorts because I’m too slow for her. I gasp, panic, I feel warm. Quickly get out of here, I dive right through the crowds to the edge of the pool. Find a place for my water aerobics exercises. The sun shines here, the metal basin glows turquoise. The feeling of dizziness disappears. Next to me a woman is reading and a man is stealthily eating bread from a bag. Darkly tanned sunbathers doze in the light.

I grope past barrier tape across meadows through the bathroom. A raven is picking through the trash at the abandoned chess set, and I’m looking for the indoor swimming pool that the pool company promised me. It’s hard to imagine, where should…? But, back there, behind the two gentlemen sunbathing elegantly in deck chairs, there is a fenced off white and silver box with tubes on it. It looks like a boiler house, behind a gap in the fence there is a sign with the word ENTRANCE, then there is a door that is ajar and – paradise: a small hall, a heated 25-meter pool with five lanes and only four swimmers in it!

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