No matter how much I want to swim in the sea year round, I just can’t brave the 11°C temperature like the old-timers: I observe from a distance, bundled up complete with a scarf and gloves, sipping on a coffee and still get goose bumps watching them casually walk in and out of the icy water. I do, however, keep up with swimming year round indoors. And, I’ve noticed lately lots more swimmers sharing the lanes as we gear up for pool and sea season, and they are bringing their kids for lessons. Of course, the champion of the swimming lesson is Pierre Gruneberg (“learn how to swim without getting wet!”) at the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat, who at 80-years-old is still the swimming instructor to the stars: Picasso to Paul McCartney, Ronald Reagan to Robin Williams, and Bono have all learned a stroke or two from the master.
Operation Savoir-Nager was initiated by the Ministry of Sports to teach kids aged 7 to 12 swimming basics vital to water safety. Vincent Hamelin from the Fédération Française de Natation explains that the program, offered in July and August, is structured with fifteen 1-hour swimming lessons, five days a week. Each group must have between 8 to 12 children who don’t know how to swim, and the classes are free, except for the €15 cost of a license and insurance.
The swimming complex Nautipolis (nautipolis.fr) opened its doors in Sophia Antipolis (150 rue du Vallon) at the beginning of the year. Spread over more than 3700m2, there’s a 25m pool with 6 lanes, and a learning pool, with lessons available for children from the age of six, as well as adults. Kid Mania helps teach diving and synchronized swimming and there’s Bébé Nageur every Saturday morning. Nautipolis also has a fitness gym (open on Sunday, too), wellness centre (saunas and hammams), and a restaurant. A single adult fee is €6; under-12 is €4.
The Olympic 50m pool at the Palais de Sports Jean Bouin in Nice (2 rue Jean Allègre) recently underwent some renovations resulting in separate changerooms for men and women, paid lockers (€1) and a general refreshing. The pool has the advantage of being five floors up with glass walls, giving spectacular city views and in particular of the sunrise on Sunday morning when the pool opens at 7am. The complex also has a skating rink, gym and restaurant, and it shares paid parking with the Acropolis Entry: adult €3.50; under-18 €1.75. For more see “Complexe Jean Bouin” at nice.fr.