I’d been swimming in the ocean several times since coming to Taiwan, but yesterday was the first time I ever went to a swimming pool in Taiwan. I went to the Nángǎng public sports center.
It was pretty reasonable, probably about 80% of the price it used to cost me to go to public sports centers in Colorado, back in 2001. It cost 110NT to get in, plus 10Nt for a locker key. The place had a weight room, which I didn’t look at, a pool, a sauna, and maybe some other stuff.
The pool wasn’t bad. It was 1.1 meters deep and 25 meters long, with several lanes. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a deep area. There were also a couple of hot tubs of varying temperatures.
The experience was absolutely terrible. They insisted that I wear a swim cap. Supposedly this was for the reason of sanitation!!? I’ve been swimming since the age of four, and swam on my high school team and had never heard any sort of rule like that. Even if they’re just worried about long hair clogging their drains, it wouldn’t make sense. The hair on my head is shorter than my body hair. Having no other option, I bought a cap there. It was way too tight. I bought the biggest one, but my noggin is 61cm around and there’s only so much those things stretch.
Stoically, I put the damned thing on an headed out to the pool. Then some guy came running up to me and said I couldn’t go in because they didn’t like my swimsuit. It’s a completely normal pair of men’s swim trunks, with pull-strings, netting inside, etc. But it was against pool regulations. It had pockets. It wasn’t form fitting either. They only allowed speedos, or other form-fitting swimwear.
At that point, I just had to ask. Why, oh why, would swim trunks be banned at the pool? I asked politely, explaining that I’d buy their swimsuit, but that I’d been swimming all my life and hadn’t ever heard of these sorts of rules before. The answer? Other swimmers would be “shocked” if they saw someone in swim trunks. After changing into “acceptable” swimwear that resembled spandex shorts, I was a bit self-conscious at how blatantly the outline of each part of my anatomy was visible through the super thin and flexible fabric, but I guess if not seeing it would be “shocking” for all my fellow swimmers, then it was the responsible thing to do.
Aside from the rules and the fact that it was a bit crowded, the pool was okay. I really like swimming, and it’s close to where I live. If I can find a comfortable swim cap, I might go back. On the other hand, maybe I’d rather do some other activity that isn’t so highly regulated.