As Nanjingers continue to sweat it out this summer, seeking refuge in shopping malls or indoor spaces with air conditioning, so the inevitable question arises, “Where can I go swimming?”
The Chinese are not known as a nation is swimmers; indeed, many locals do not know how. Yet, there are in fact lots of swimming pools or water parks in Nanjing. The trick, as they say, is knowing where to look.
For those on a budget, the swimming pools in some universities, such as those in Nanjing University and Nanjing Agricultural University, are very cheap and easy to visit. However, do not expect too much from neither the facilities nor the equipment.
Among the more popular pools are those in famous places, such as the Nanjing National Fitness Centre on Zhongshan Dong Lu and that in Wutaishan Stadium. A good location is their upside; being the most popular public swimming pools in Nanjing, the sheer number of people therein their downside.
A slightly more expensive option, and one, as a result, with less people, is the natatorium within Nanjing Olympic Centre. Note that should probably be “slightly more expensive”. At the top of the scale are the gym memberships at hotels which also have a swimming pool. The Nanjinger figures that of the Jinling Hotel to be both the most luxurious and competitive, given that more than one person can share the same membership; it being designed for use by companies as a staff perk.
All of the aforementioned provide relief from Nanjing’s summer by way of being wet and indoors. However, a plunge into the cooler waters outside can have much the same effect, just remember the waterproof sunblock!
Both Tangshan Water Park and Yinxin Lake Park, again crowded, have many a recreation facility and also a number of swimming options. Yet, the star of the show must surely be the bathing beaches near Guchen Lake. On the banks of Guchen lake and very big; approximately 40,000 square metres in area and 500 metres long, Guchen Lake’s bathing beaches are fortunately also very close to Gaochun Lao Jie, at just 4 km distant.
Yet, these rare natural waters are only open for swimming during the months of July and August, so don’t miss out this year!
Nevertheless, it would be amiss of an article such as this to not draw attention to some of the hazards of outdoor swimming in and around Nanjing. The most celebrated of outdoor swims in Nanjing, Xizia (Purple Cloud) Lake, is fed from deep inside the mountain by cold streams. The resulting mix of water temperatures can unexpectedly bring on the most unpleasant of cramp attacks. The advice is to always swim with a friend, or at the very least take a floatation device. The same goes for Huashen Lake.
A special and final mention is deserved by Nanjing’s largest body of water, the mighty Yangtze River. An attempt at swimming its breadth may sound like an exciting challenge; in reality, it is only for the completely foolhardy. Aside from the obvious risks, the Yangtze is also home to a parasite that can penetrate the skin of a host during contact with infested water, leading to Schistosomiasis.
According to the World Health Organisation, “Schistosomiasis japonicum is currently endemic in the low reaches of Yangtze River and is a major health problem among parasitic diseases”.