Category Archives: swimming

Pool review: Bonnevoie, Luxembourg

I’m currently without a real home pool at the moment which makes the building of a swimming habit somewhat difficult. My would be home, dCoque, which is Luxembourg’s National Sports Centre, is currently closed for renovations until 1 October which is a nice chunk of the year. I’ll be honest and say I have not really managed to get a swim habit. No swimming till October is  pushing it a bit though. The next replacement, which I haven’t managed to check out yet, Badanstalt, about a 10 minute walk from home, is also closed. The pool 5 minutes from home isn’t open to the public. And so on and so forth

Next on the list is Bonnevoie. Bonnevoie is not too far from the railway station in Luxembourg, and public transport wise it is served by buses 3/30. You need to get off at Leon XIII. It is open every day except Wednesdays, and weekdays, it tends to close at 20.30. On Sunday it is open from 8.00 to 12.00.

There are two pools in the swimming centre in Bonnevoie; what they call the large pool, and the small pool. The large pool is 25m long, and ranges in depth from 1.8m to 3.8m at the deep end. There is a shelf at around 1.5m around the edge under water. The steps are set into the pool wall. Temperature wise it is reasonable – it is cool enough to swim comfortably in, but not so cold that you fight against going into it. When I was there, 2 lanes were separated off for lane swimming. The rest of the pool was occupied by people swimming lengths anyway so basically the choice was yours.

The small pool is about 10 by 10 meters, and at its deepest is 1.25m. One side consists of steps rather than some ladders, and at one end, there is a barrier to hold onto when getting into the pool. There is a small slide as well. I understand the pool is also used for things like aquaerobics. Temperature wise it is around the same as the big pool.

Entry to the pool without discounts for an adult is currently 3.80E and the ticket is in the form of a chipped band which I wore on my wrist and which also serves as a key for the lockers. In my view, there are not a lot of dressing rooms, but they work okay. The lockers are tall and narrow, and while you did not have to fumble for a euro or a coin of some description to lock them. I did not like them. I struggled to get my clothes bag into them and eventually pulled stuff out. My personal preference would have been for wider but shorter lockers and they could have increased the number of lockers available had they done this.

From a layout point of view, the lockers are a distance from the showers which means that really, it’s wise to have a bag to carry towels and shampoo or whatever you want in the showers afterwards. I tend not to like this because it’s just another thing to remember. That being said, one item of design in Bonnevoie recognises the needs for that, and as a result, there are shelves poolside to store stuff, like small swimming bags with towels for example. I liked that touch because typically, in other places, to find somewhere to leave a bottle of water and flipflops or on other occasions, everything can be a hassle.

The other thing which the pool in Bonnevoie has which is not a common feature in pools in my experience is a fine big readable digital clock. This makes it handy to plan around bus services and dates and the like.

Given that currently, dCoque and Badanstalt are closed, it is likely that I will default to Bonnevoie as the alternatives are a) rarely open (Bel Air) or b) expensive (Les Thermes). I’d be happier if it were open for 30 minutes longer during the week and maybe a few hours more on Sunday but then the world does not revolve around me.

Bonnevoie Swimming pool
30 rue Sigismond

Bus 3/30, Place Leon XIII

Monday: 08.00-20.30
Tuesday: 06.45-20.30
Wednesday: CLOSED – although apparently open 8-17.30 while Badanstalt is closed until 1 September – I cannot check this myself.
Thursday: 06.45-20.30
Friday: 08.00-20.30
Saturday: 08.00-20.30
Sunday: 08.00-12.00

Cost of a swim: €3.40

Website: Ville de Luxembourg

Treasa’s Map of Pools

 

 

Swim shiny

I am permanently in the market for wearable tech for swimming. I hate to say it like this because I hate the words “wearable tech” where good old gadgets will do.

What I want is the perfect pair of wireless ear buds that don’t move, and a watch which does all the following:

  • stores 6 gig of music
  • tracks my swimming when I start swimming, and tracks every stroke. Unlike my running tracker which considers everything I do as walking, for some reason, even when I run 150m.
  • talks to my mobile phone
  • provides me with swim specific information
  • does not tell me when my phone is ringing because I am in the pool.
  • does not send me text messages
  • does communicate easily with my phone and syncs automatically with my platform independent fitness tracker, Runkeeper

I have spent a lot of my time lately looking for this device and it does not exist. To be fair, the whole wireless earbud thing is not made easier by the fact that sending signals through water is challenging to say the least, and really, if I think about it, there’s a high risk that I’d pick up the signal from that dude splashing around there, listening to Rammstein. Not ideal.

But.

In terms of an actual decent swim tracker, the one which most of my network (hello Jamie) recommend to me is the Garmin Swim with the proviso that Garmin have not updated it in some time. I think the device dates from 2012. It is now 2017. It does not talk to phones as far as I can ascertain, so it does not tell me when my phone rings, or send me text messages, and since it does not talk to my phone, it has to be hooked up to something or other to get the data from it into Garmin Connect which apparently I can then configure to talk to Runkeeper. It is not, by the standards of anything which can be taken into a swimming pool and used to track swimming, particularly expensive, although context matters. When the competition is around 200E and you’re coming in at 125E, you’ll look cheap as well. .But 125E in my opinion is too much to be paying for five year old technology in a sector which is supposed to be cutting edge. The alternatives which seem to be getting kudos in the reviews are the Garmin Vivoactive HR and the Polar V800. I think. They didn’t have it at Intersport today so, I could be mistaken.

I have spent a lot of time reading reviews for fitness trackers and the one thing which has surprised and disappointed me is there are very few swim specific reviews floating around. Almost every single review that covers the swim features of the Garmin Vivoactive and the Polar V800 all give a great detail about their capabilities in terms of step counting, GPS capabilities and stuff that really interests cyclists and runners, but is a bit superficial on the swimming front. There are a couple of others floating around like the Moov and some of the Fitbits. But while the Moov has got some kudos as a swim tracker, the review in question has not been really detailed in terms of how useful it is really for swim tracking.

I don’t own any of these electronics at the moment – the way things are going the Polar V800 is way too expensive, so that leaves the Vivoactive as next most likely. But I feel like I’d be buying blind because no review of them really covers the things I want to know.  Sure the Moov has coaching stuff but all that is irrelevant when I can’t be sure it gives me SWOLF values for swim efficiency. I know I’m not an efficient swimmer but I’d like to at least be able to get changes in how I am getting on. When I look at all the information that I can get together, it really looks as though the Garmin Swim is still the best option. I’ve had the Apple Watch 2 recommended as second best behind the Vivoactive in a test of several devices which did not include the Polar V800 which regularly outscored the Vivoactive in tests where both of them were included.

These are expensive gadgets. I’m not the kind of gadget freak who will be spending 500E a year on a new swim gadget – I want the damn thing to last me 2 or 3 years of regular swimming too. I’m resigned to them not playing music or podcasts at me because you cannot beat the laws of physics (yet). But it’d be nice to get a swim tracker again that actually focused on the needs of swimmers rather than being a bolt on to running and cycling watches.

It would be equally handy for them to actually look attractive. With the exception of the French company Withings who make attractive fitness trackers broadly useless for swimming, wearable tech watches are not really attractive, even the ones that their manufacturers claim are sleek and attractive to wear. I wear a Swiss watch with a traditional clock face and you will get it off my left wrist when I am dead. I’m not interested in wearable tech to replace my watch because none of them come even close. This is why I wish their manufacturers would work on making them do exactly what they are supposed to do in terms of fitness tracking and stop assuming we’re all going to wear them all the time.

In the meantime, I still don’t know what to do about swim tracking. All I can say is I’m not particularly enthusiastic about shelling out 500E for a Polar V800, and in any case, since none of the reviews seem to be genuine in depth reviews of them as a swimming tracking device (as opposed to a water proof device that we checked is it water proof and can you at least get in the pool with it). I’m not the world’s greatest swimmer but as matters stand, I really don’t know what to do when the reviews are just inadequate.

 

Swim haul!!!

I spend my life on youtube looking at artsupply and stationery hauls and never seem to get around to doing them. So I’m starting with a swimming supply – sort of – haul. There’s a sale in one of the big sports shop and I was in the market for quite a lot of stuff, not all of which I wanted. I wanted a spare pair of trail running shoes – they are end of line and therefore impossible to get – well in my size anyway. The size below fitted onto my feet but made it clear they would cripple me if I tried to run in them. Bloody sorry I didn’t buy several pairs when I had the chance, in the last sale. Nor could I see my way around to where they had things like yoga mats.

This left the swimming section of my shopping list which consisted of:

  • Look at the swimsuits and be nice about Speedo and Arena’s assumptions that all women who swim have A cups, max.
  • You’re allowed get some noseclips if they are the right colour if not, well you’ve a box full of ones the wrong colour already
  • A swimming bag because bah, Bonnevoie
  • Some paddles and maybe some flippers as well
  • If and only if they have cloth swimming caps, a couple of spares would be handy
  • If they have a Garmin Swim and it is reasonably priced or if they have a Vivoactive and it is reasonably priced and you’re feeling particularly flaithiúl, maybe get that.

So, what I eventually wound up with was this:

Swim haul

Quite.

  • Arena swimming bag, pink because I like it better than black or red and they did not have aquamarine/turquoise/mint/your choice of shade in that area of the spectrum. But at least I have one to deal with the idiosyncrasies of having to haul towels around quite a way from lockers in my current local swimming pool
  • Two small Jack Wolfskin backpacks which weren’t on the list but are smaller than my North Face backpack and one of which might make the lugging of stuff to work a bit more Treasa friendly. The other is most likely to be used to lug art stuff around if I want to go urban sketching.
  • Pair of paddles for swim training. I looked at a float as well but I already have a pullbuoy to sort out my alignment in the water (ha) and if I get that right the kicks should fix themselves. Allegedly this will help with strength training and I am hoping for a little help with my arm muscles as I seem to have what I’ve heard the young people call “bingo wings”. Quite.
    • 3 nose clips in the correct colour; yes, indulgent, but I like aquamarine ones and since these things get lost on an ongoing basis…
  • two spare polyester caps. Again, there are some stunning silicon ones on display but my past experience with trying to wear them has never been that positive. Maybe I should try again.

There was no Garmin swim and I didn’t feel like blowing money on the Vivoactive – the reasons for this will be blogged in about 30 minutes from now max.

Currently, the two pools closest to me in Luxembourg are closed for extended periods for refurbishment; one until the start of September and one until the start of October. The pool situation is a bit tight here at the moment as a result, although I have two alternatives, one of which I have already checked out. The thing is, I have a deep desire to get back swimming regularly, not because I was particularly fast (I backstroked but…) but because I felt a lot better for it. Not that I feel bad now but once you drag yourself out of a house, and to a pool and drop into the water, the world always seems to shine a bit more.