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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Looking to beat the heat with a cold cocktail and a refreshing plunge?

Looking to beat the heat with a cold cocktail and a refreshing plunge?

In the grip of Cambodia’s hot season, residents turn more frequently – and desperately – to the capital’s swimming pools. From top-end to family fun, there is something for almost everyone

Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON

Blue Lime Hotel.

LOCATIONS

  • Himawari - 313 Sisowath Quay - US$10 (weekdays) or $15 (weekends)
  • Phnom Penh Sport Club - Corner of streets 271 and 464 - $6 (adults) and $4 (children)
  • Long Beach Plaza Hotel - No 3 Street 289 - $2
  • Blue Lime and the Pavillion hotels - No 42 Street 19 and No 277 Street 19 - Minimum purchase of food $5 or $2.50 for Cambodians
  • Kabiki - No 22 Street 264 - $5 family and $3 individual
  • Villa Lanka - No 14 Street 282 - $5 (adults) and $3 (children)

The heat is an annoyance at the best of times in Cambodia, but come April it becomes almost too much to endure. Whilst a common complaint among Phnom Penh's expatriate residents is the lack of big, public swimming pools and lidos, hotels and sports clubs nevertheless offer a variety of opportunities to cool off. Increasingly, local residents are becoming keen to dip in too.  

"The current hot weather is definitely encouraging more people to go swimming," said Austswim certified teacher Andrew Schultz, who established swimming school Camswim about a year ago.

‘"At the moment, I think half of our students are foreign and half are Khmer, but we are looking into getting more into the Khmer market," Schultz said, adding that while the Cambodians' interest in swimming lessons is still limited, it's growing parallel to the rise of the middle class in Cambodia.

Camswim teacher trainee Hong Lida said she initially started taking classes with Schultz after she saw the progress her son made through the lessons.

"I think at the moment not many Cambodians know how to swim, but they are starting to know more about it," she said.

Schultz's lessons are held at the private pool at the Phnom Penh Centre, and are according to him suitable for all ages.

"Baby swimming is particularly popular - it allows parents to have fun with their babies as well as watch them learn and progress," he said. "I have also taught some [adults] who have never experienced being in the water before."

Laps and leisure

Unfortunately many of the pools open to the general public in Phnom Penh remain unaffordable for much of the population.

While several of the top-range hotels welcome non-guests to their pools, access is generally in the US$10 per day range, though this may include use of the gym as well.

At the moment not many cambodians know how to swim, but they are starting to know more about it.

 The popular 25x10m pool and smaller kids pool at Himawari for example will set you back US$10 on weekdays and US$15 on weekends, including access to the gym and use of the tennis courts.

"I suppose the options for swimming especially for Khmers are somewhat limited, but having said that there is the pool at Olympic Stadium, and some more affordable hotel pools," Schultz said.

Hong Lida suggested the $2 pool at Long Beach Plaza Hotel in Tuol Kork as a decent inexpensive alternative.

Another affordable option is the newly opened Phnom Penh Sport Club (PPSC) . This brand new establishment has two big pools - one for adults measuring 25x12 metres, and one of similar size for children, which is further divided into deeper and shallower halves.

Photo by:

SOVANN PHILONG

The new Phnom Penh Sport Club.

Photo by:

SOVANN PHILONG

The new Phnom Penh Sport Club.

Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON

The Himawari.

Cleverly, the adults' and kids' pools are situated apart from each other on the spacious grounds, creating separate areas for playing and relaxing. Single entry is $6 for adults and $3 for children, and cheaper coupon and monthly rates are also available.   

Selective luxury

For something more chic and exclusive, hip boutique hotels Blue Lime and Pavillion offer quiet and lush poolside relief to hotel guests and registered members.

With complimentary Wi-Fi, use of the medium-sized pools requires a $5 ($2.50 for Cambodians) minimum purchase of food or drink.

To maintain the exclusive and serene atmosphere, non-guests must apply for membership to use the pool and though it is technically open to anyone, patrons must be over 16 years of age and sex tourists are strictly prohibited from entering the grounds.

"Basically, if you're a Western male without a reputable job, it could be difficult to become a member," said owner Alexis de Sureiman. "Most of our customers are foreigners, Cambodians account for maybe 15 percent," he continued, adding that he would happily welcome more Khmer customers.

De Sureiman also runs Kabiki, which at a first glance appears similar to its sister establishments, but does not require membership.

Families are welcome at daily rates of $5 for adults and $3 for children.

Kabiki has one larger pool (17.5x5m) as well as a shaded kids' pool, and the place tends to fill up with children splashing and noise, especially during weekends.

Another family favourite is Villa Lanka, where a dip in the decent-sized pool costs $5 for adults and $3 for children during weekdays and $8 for adults and $4 for children over the weekend.

For more information on Camswim swimming classes, call Andrew Schultz on 017 986 297, or e-mail camswim@mail.com

 

Chanthy

Saleswoman

Do you  swim and where?

Last time I went swimming was maybe three years ago. I think we went somewhere across Monivong Bridge.

I have also been to the Water Park, but it is also a long time ago. 

Yaya
Saleswoman
Do you  swim and where?

Before, I didn’t know how to swim but now I like it a lot.

I go swimming with my family and friends at VIP Sports Club. It costs around US$5 per person which is OK price, especially as they have a sauna. On Sundays, I like to go with a big group of people.

Richard

Conservationist
Do you  swim and where?

A lot of the pools in Phnom Penh are too crowded and too expensive.

I don't like the pool at VIP as it has way too many chemicals.

Pavillion is good for chilling out during weekends, and I also like Phnom Penh Hotel - the pool and general set-up are nice.

Bunthoeun
Waiter
Do you  swim and where?

I’ve swum in the Mekong river in Kratie where I come from.

I have never swum in Phnom Penh, but I plan to go to Sihanoukville soon, for my first time ever, so I hope I will be able to swim there.  

Jordyan

NGO worker
Do you  swim and where?

Blue Lime is my favourite because it's laidback and there's a nice atmosphere.

I like the pool scene in Phnom Penh generally, it's like a sub-culture - there's always somewhere new that's hip.

Also, I see a lot of my friends at the pools on Saturdays.  

Charlotte

Volunteer
Do you  swim and where?

It's between Pavillion and Blue Lime - they're the only ones I've come across that have wi-fi and are easily accessible.

I go to the pool on the weekends - I definitely go more often now that the weather's getting hotter.

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