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The Pool – Swimming in Iran

While in Hamedan the family we were staying with offered to take me, (not Kat… forbidden) to the local pool for a swim – “great” I thought, haven’t had a chance to get in any swim training, (although training is a strong word for what I’ve been doing on tour) for a while. Turns out, Iranian pools are a pretty interesting experience.

Phil Swimming

Didn't take any pics at the pool, obviously. So here's one of me at some camp site in France... just for the sake of having a picture

Changing

Not only are women not allowed in the same pool as men, (at the same time anyway – although they do have allotted times) but the men are so abashed about nudity that you can’t even get changed unless you go in one of the little cubicles they have. I didn’t see these little cubicles and made the mistake of, y’know, just getting changed, (having been in other Muslim counties, like Turkey, where they certainly aren’t shy about stripping off in the Hamam, I didn’t think this would be a problem) and was told by my host that this wasn’t cool. Oh well, you live you learn.

Giant Kids Paddling Pool

So we enter the pool area, “awesome a 50m pool!” I think; but wait… no one is swimming. No, everyone is either, congregating in the shallow end and having a bit of a manly splish splash with each other, or they are trying to outdo each other on the diving board. It really did resemble a boys 11th birthday party where the parents have hired out the local lido. As it turns out Iranians are not really taught swimming at school or at a young age – I was expecting lanes of people booming along, especially as two of the guys we came with said they were very fast swimmers – and don’t get me wrong, I’m no Michael Phelps, I have done plenty of Triathlons and can hold my own, but for me to be hands down the best swimmer in a room of over 200 people says quite a bit.

Manly Massage Steam and Sauna

The fun doesn’t stop at the pool in Iran, the sauna and steam rooms (which were nice and hot) are packed with sweaty men all giving each other rub downs – they may not like nudity but they sure do like making sure their bro, (who is usually on all fours in the middle of the room) doesn’t have stiff muscles. I had to refuse kind offers offer’s several times.

WWF Jacuzzi

Wrestling in the Jacuzzi, oh yes, one of the national sports over here and what better time to do it than when you’re in your speedos and all slippery and wet with 20 other men all equally clad and slippery nearby to cheer you on.

Conclusion

I think it’s fair to say that my visit to the pool was the highlight of my visit to Iran so far.

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