65@65 SWIM #46 KASTRUP SEA BATH, COPENHAGEN

One great thing about Kastrup Sea Bath, or The Snail, or the Conch, is that it is easy to get to. Two stops from the airport on the Metro, and twenty minutes plus a walk from the centre of old Copenhagen. I came here after work, on the way to the airport, to fly back to London. An opportunistic short swim in the dark. The platform can be seen from the Metro train (just) and in the dark it is easy to find – lit up like a sea sculpture, it is the best of design, and among the best of Copenhagen. That’s another great thing about it. It was built in 2005 entirely out of azobe, an African wood that is harder than steel and seemingly never rots or attracts woodworm. In Summer it is packed – it has diving towers, lots of space to lie about in, and an amazing view over the sea and Øresund bridge (think The Bridge) to Sweden – I can’t imagine those Danish-Swedish Copenhagen-Malmo thrillers without it. Right now I am guided by the lights on the jetty leading up to it. On my own, I exchange greetings with family – adult male, female, two children, all went for a dip. The winter-swimming family. They warned me to be careful, the current is swirling around. They wouldn’t stop me – Danes are far too sensible, assuming that people are grown up enough to assess personal risk for themselves. The Snail/Conch platform was lit up, or up-lit, following the planks to the bathing area – one hand-rail, increasingly dark sea below – was like following the lighting strips on a plane. The platform itself is much bigger than expected, if you haven’t been here before, with plenty of bench space to change in. I put down my thermos and arranged my clothes, left my carry-on luggage safely at the end of the bench. Arranged them in order of putting back on. I recalled a November morning, my first time down here, ever, 7am, blood-red sky, anticipating a much needed swim. Not anticipated were the thirty or so less than clothed bodies, in and quickly out of the water, drinking tea and getting dressed. Someone from Vinterbad Bryggen recognised me and we shared a hug and some tea. This 7am swim happens every day, I was told. That time I didn’t have a thermos flask of tea with me, and people were very happy to share – coffee and stories. “Do we do this in Oxford?” – the most common question. ‘Not quite like this, but yes’. Not quite so naked, not so usually, no. I have swimming friends from Copenhagen visit Oxford and come swimming, usually Port Meadow, but also the lake at the West Oxfordshire Sailing Club. They are easy guests to have – they fit in easily, and are pleasant company. Back to tonight, and the swim before the flight – brief, very careful entry into the swirly darkness-water, swirled around for no more than a few minutes, always careful, then out and changed. Back to the routine of the airport, but mellow in temperament while being processed onto the flight and then off it again at Heathrow. ‘The swim stays with you, and you never regret a swim’, I have heard that said, and I have often said it myself.



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