In an effort to curb Russian gasoline dependance, Berlin swimmers are braving colder swimming pools this season.
The gesture is in support of Ukraine. The Berliner Bäderbetriebe, BBB, which operates the German capital’s pools, will be turning the city’s pools temperature down by 2 degrees, a small reduction in temperature that will save about 20 percent on energy.
“We want to make a contribution to reducing dependence on Russian natural gas supplies,” Johannes Kleinsorg, CEO of BBB, said at a recent press conference.
For many, German reliance on Russian fuel is a big issue. Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Germany has been under increasing pressure to justify its business relations with Russia. Critics say that although Germany has sent billions of euros in financial support and weapons to Ukraine, those contributions are dwarfed when compared to the 200 million euros Germany pays Russia each day for gas, oil, and coal. So even as the country aims to support Ukraine, through its energy dependance, Germany is helping finance the war it’s trying to stop.
That’s why some Germans are taking matters into their own hands. Urged by the government, citizens are cutting back energy use by turning down radiators, turning off lights, and working from home to save gas on driving.
The BBB said that the swimming pool temperature change should be barely felt by swimmers at its facilities, but it would make a strong political statement about reducing the country’s dependence on Russia in the wake of the conflict. Those pools heated with renewable energy will not be affected, such as the solar-powered pools in Gropiusstadt, Pankow, and Mariendorf. Such pools will remain at the normal temperature.
Regular swimmers at the city’s Prinzenbad outdoor pool say that they don’t mind. The city pool opened for the season in April, and on a crisp morning in May, Sabine Gutenmueller, an annual pass holder, took her first dip in the chilly water. The water was 68 degrees Fahrenheit, about 5 degrees higher than the air temperature.
She said it wasn’t as cold as she expected.
Selma Nielsen, another regular at the Prinzenbad, told the Associated Press that she thinks the pool's decision to lower the water temperature was overdue.
“I think it's a good thing, not just because of Ukraine but for the climate,' she said. 'As such, I think it's a step in the right direction.”