After our refreshing ice skating experience at Lentpark KölnBäder we caught up with Franziska Graalman who manages the press for Kölnbäder to find out how these institutions are part of the fabric of Cologne society…
USC: Tell us a little bit about KölnBäder?
KölnBäder are the urban pools that we have here in Cologne. We have 13 in different locations and around 2.6 million visitors each year. The population of the city is 1 million so quite a lot of people come to our pools and saunas and use our fitness facilities.
But what makes Lentpark really unique is our ice rink and the freshwater pool outside. We have swim classes here for children and adults and people can learn how to ice skate. We also have ice hockey and figure skating teams that train here.
USC: Are your establishments very important to the community in Cologne?
Yes. It’s something that our government gives money to support. These days it’s important that people stay active and healthy. We have a whole range of activities on offer that gives people contrast to playing video games or sitting in front of screens in offices all day.
USC: When are people able to ice skate?
We open the ice rink from the middle of September until the easter holidays. Everyone can come and in the afternoons during the week we have special training here for figure skating and ice hockey. Once a year we host the figure skating championships of Cologne. And curling training takes place here so there’s a variety of different uses for the club.
USC: What makes Lentpark special?
We’re the only complex in Europe that has the combination of a pool and an ice rink. Plus we have two floors for ice-skating – the rink goes around the entire complex so you can skate around and see the whole space. And outside is very special because of the freshwater swimming pool.
The city of Cologne has invested in our facilities. We have pools that are over 50 years old but they’ve been modernised and re-built. It costs a lot of money to maintain these buildings and facilities and the entrance fee doesn’t cover all of it, so the government needs to fund it and people need to come and enjoy it. Plus we’re a green building – we take the heat from the ice rink and re-use it to heat the swimming pool.
USC: Has there been a time in the past where this place was in danger of closing?
Not really. In Cologne it’s always been the other way around – we want to maintain what we have. There are many people moving into big cities so we have to invest in our infrastructure. There are new houses, new flats being built, new people coming to live here. In the future they will want to go swimming so we need to expand and build more pools for them.
USC: And are there any projects that you’re particularly proud of?
We opened Lentpark in 2011. Agrippabad is also an amazing project – it was built after the war in 1959 and the designers have kept many historical details. There’s something special about keeping these old parts but modernising others; it creates a unique atmosphere.
USC: Are there any community projects that have stood out for you?
We think it’s important to offer something for everyone. We try to reach as many people as we can with our programmes and facilities. Elderly people, families, students. If adults don’t learn how to swim, they’re less likely to teach their children to swim, so we host workshops here to make sure the kids are proficient in this basic skill.
These swim lessons also support schools which are low on money and resources. We always say “the kids of today are the customers of tomorrow.” We want them to swim and be active and enjoy themselves here.
Urban Sports Club has tons of swim partners across Germany, Italy and France. Take a look at our site to see what’s on in your area.
And check out KölnBaeder to get all their latest news, events and updates.