With over sixty open-air, summer and indoor pools and over forty protected
swimming areas, Berlin is a paradise for those who love swimming and bathing.
The diversity of options available is not least due to the fact that the
city is on water: approximately 6.5 percent of its area is made up of lakes
and waterways. The first public indoor pools in Berlin were opened
in the imperial era. Although these "people’s baths" also served
to promote swimming, they were primarily for hygiene purposes. It was not
until swimming became increasingly widespread as an association and competitive
sport in the twenties that indoor pools were designed for sport first and
foremost. After the Second World War and division of the city, the
pool facilities developed differently in East and West. In East Berlin
the construction of sports venues was mainly geared towards competitive
sport to begin with. It was not until the beginning of the seventies that
popular sport began to be promoted more. In order to improve swimming facilities,
prototype buildings for indoor pools were developed then. Twelve of these
buildings with a 25-metre pool and sauna had been constructed by 1988 and
they enriched leisure facilities particularly in new housing estates.
The first new indoor pools were built in West Berlin in the early sixties.
They were used for school and association swimming, as well as being
amenities for the leisure and health of the general population. The "seven
pools programme" improved the swimming facilities located right on people’s
doorsteps as of 1972. The pools built within the framework of this programme
are of a uniform design with facilities geared towards all facets of swimming.
Three of them are swimming complexes with outdoor pools that are open in
the summer. Up until the post-war era, outdoor swimming had primarily
been enjoyed in lakes and rivers. It was not until the fifties that, in
addition to these "outdoor pools", including the well-known Wannsee bathing
resort, "summer pools" also became popular. In Berlin, the expression "summer
pool" denotes artificial open-air swimming pools. As oases in the middle
of the city, embedded in spacious green areas, the complexes were an extension
of other leisure facilities available and also often where Berliners spent
their summer holidays.