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Pools of the past and present

Fun in the Ojén outdoor pool during the weekend of the Ojeando festival.
Fun in the Ojén outdoor pool during the weekend of the Ojeando festival. / SUR
  • We take a dip into some of the outdoor pools in villages in Malaga province; the ideal way to keep cool at a low cost and in beautiful surroundings

Anybody who has ever swum in an outdoor public swimming pool will surely agree that there is something very special about the experience. Yes, they are all large holes in the ground, painted or tiled, filled with water, but there the resemblance ends. Every outdoor pool is different, and they are nothing like the indoor pools.

Those of us from colder countries also have fond childhood memories of enjoying ourselves in outdoor pools, but they include elements that nobody from Spain will recognise. Plucking up courage to jump into the water and preparing ourselves for the shock and pain of the cold, for example. The feeling of relief when we went numb, which was the point when we shouted to others teetering on the edge "come on, it's lovely". Blue lips, shivering and the feeling of rough towels bringing frozen skin back to life. But we still loved it.

And of course, some things never change. Every teenager wanted to be the first one into the pool, but it didn't matter how early you got up to be at the head of the queue, somebody always beat you to it.

This sounds as if the outdoor public pools are a thing of the past, but of course they're not. They are as popular as they ever were and they have numerous advantages. When the beaches are so crowded that there isn't space for a single sun umbrella more, the pools are a peaceful alternative. There is no stress associated with finding a parking space. The country air is pure. The pools are cheap to use or, in some cases, free. Some of them are salt water, so there is no chlorine. Some even have curative properties. Let's take a look at some of the best options in Malaga province.

The outdoor pool in Almargen, for example, has saline water and is one of the most-visited in Malaga province. Comares is also using salt water for the first time this summer, and is the pool with the longest opening hours. In Pizarra, the council has modernised the pool by installing a retractable roof, so it can be used at other times of the year and not just at the height of summer.

Moclinejo claims to have the bar with the cheapest prices of all those at municipal pools. "Anti-crisis prices," says the sign in large letters.

The pool in Casarabonela is in the upper part of the village and has one of the biggest restaurants. However, when it comes to claims of fame, the municipal pool in Ojén is probably the winner as its visitors include some of the most famous names in Indie music in Spain. Every year, during the Ojeando festival, the pool becomes a popular meeting point during the daytime, especially for those recovering from the exertions on stage the night before.

Outdoor pools are not only something from the past. They are very popular in the present and will undoubtedly be so for a very long time to come. "¡Vivan las piscinas!" is what we say.