Swimming pools in France opt for mandatory wetsuits

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Swimming pools in France opt for mandatory wetsuits

Swimming pools in France are lowering water temperatures or switching off heating altogether, which has left swimmers in one suburban Paris outdoor pool clad in mandatory wetsuits, because of the price of gas soaring.

The Olympic-sized open-air pool in Nogent-sur-Marne used to be heated to a comfortable 26 Celsius 79 Fahrenheit, but that was before the Ukraine war sent gas prices soaring, leaving the pool operator with no option but to turn off the heating.

Many bathers had already taken to using wetsuits, but the pool has made them compulsory from October 1 to prevent medical emergencies among people not used to swimming in cold water.

On a crisp and sunny autumn day, 63-year-old swimmer Muriel Goldberg said she did not mind the wetsuit at all.

The wetsuit is a great experience. I had never worn one before, I thought it would have an impact on movement but not at all. She said that it's nice and fresh, we feel much better after training in a wetsuit in cold water than when it's heated.

The centre had decided to stop heating the 50 metre outdoor pool on 15 May for financial reasons, according to Adrien Nougot, nogent Nautique pool manager.

He said the measure would save up to 50,000 euros per month in the coldest months because the price of gas had gone from 11 euros per megawatt-hour in September 2020 to 151 euros in September 2022.

The French government plans to reduce energy consumption by 10 per cent over the next two years, compared to 2019 levels. Swimming pool operators have been asked to reduce water temperatures by 1 Celsius, while municipalities and companies have been asked to cut energy use where possible.

A few diehards were doing laps in wetsuits and nobody complained. Nicolas Lioret, 48, said it was better to have a cold pool than a closed pool.

Swimmers can still practice their favourite sport. He said that is a good solution.