Today I went swimming like I do every other day, whilst relaxing in a hot-tub after my routine I had a conversation with a Canadian tourist on the number of swimming pools in Iceland, which he found staggering and that his home town had no pool. I told him that the number of swimming pools in Iceland made total sense given the fact that hot water is found in infinite quantities and is usually readily available to be exploited. Him and me also discussed the fact that almost all Icelanders seem to utilize these pools at least a few times a year, and many such as myself use them several times a week.
I think that the prevalence of swimming pools in my country can be traced back to a few factors. Firstly, as already mentioned, the presence of naturally heated water is the most important factor. Iceland, as given by its name is very cold and having unheated outdoor pools would be impractical, whilst having large structures housing indoor pools would be too much of a cost for most towns. Inexpensive and heated outdoor swimming pools are the most practical approach, and therefore the most prevalent sort of swimming pool in the country.
Secondly, the climate is an important factor. Iceland is more or less consistently cold all year round with freezing temperatures in winter and short chilly summers. Not to mention the almost consistent snow cover during wintertime which in the worst years can last from October to April. The snow made me give up on an another favorite exercise of mine, cycling. Naturally, the bad weather makes any sort of outdoor activity such as exercising very unpleasant. Swimming in heated pools is a great way to counter these factors and enjoy a healthy exercise in a pleasant environment, with the weather rarely causing trouble.
Lastly, swimming in Iceland is more than just a way to get exercise, its a way for people in the community to get together. While other countries have pubs and so forth Icelanders have swimming pools as a way for people to get together. This is especially true of the elderly who are more active swimmers than young people, many of the elderly I noticed don’t even do an exercise routine but rather choose to hang out in the hot tubs or saunas. Ultimately I think Iceland has a wonderful “swimming pool culture” and it’s fantastic to be a part of it. Hopefully one day my Canadian friend will live in a community which has a pool.