Theme: It's a small world after all.
When I swam last year with Team Pitt Masters in Pittsburgh, I got to know a number of incredibly nice swimmers from not only Western PA but all over the world. Two such fellows are Yiu Law and Bodo Reitz (no relation to Heather, I am pretty sure). Yiu, pronounced "You," is originally from the Far East; Bodo is from Germany.
Here is a picture of the three of us after practice one winter night as we prepare to go out into the cold:
Bodo recently moved back to Germany to work for Siemens, I am pretty sure, or some other company that uses extremely smart physicists for medical imaging technology type work. He told us where in Germany he was moving back to, but I don't spreken zee Deutsch all that well myself, and it didn't sound like Munich, Berlin, or Hamburger, so I was pretty sure I wouldn't know where it was even if I could remember it.
Time moves forward.
A couple days ago, I got wind through Leslie Livingston that our mutual friend TJ Morton--see picture below with TJ on the right and Aquageek on the left:
--anyhow, I got wind that TJ, whom I'd met at Colony Zones SCY Championships in years past, was moving to Germany for 2-3 years starting next July.
As sad as this is for us Americans, I figured the Germans would be very encouraged by TJ's immigration. I decided to email three swimming friends--Bodo, who I knew resides now somewhere in Germany, and Lydia & Craig Holley (alas, no pictures available) who used to work for military intelligence in Germany and swam there on a masters team for a number of years.
Even as I tip-tapped out my email, I figured the chances were tiny either Bodo or Lydia or Craig would know of swimming possibilities in TJ's future town of Erlangen, which I personally had never heard of and figured it must be some Bavarian backwater where villagers with rakes and torches still hunt wild boars and fear vampires.
Bracing myself for ridicule--"You know, Jim, Germany is a large country, how are we supposed to know masters swimming teams in--what did you call it? Erlangen!!!"--I nevertheless did what I figured was my duty: connect TJ with a replacement group of like-minded aquatic buddies in the pacified Fatherland.
Here is what I wrote:
Dear Bodo, Craig, Lydia, and TJ,
A quick word of introduction:
TJ Morton is a great guy I have become friends with at USMS swimming meets in the D.C. area. He is moving to Germany this summer and is trying to figure out the masters opportunities there.
Bodo, Lydia, and Craig are all swimmers with ties to both the Pittsburgh area and Germany. Bodo just moved back to his native land; Lydia and Craig lived in Germany for many years before relocating here to Sewickley.
I am not sure exactly where Erlangen is, but if you guys could drop TJ a line and let him know any advice you have for him swimming in Germany, we would both be very grateful.
Within a couple hours, Bodo wrote us back:
this is Bodo writing, I just moved from Pittsburgh back to Germany early last year, actually I ended up just in the same area you are heading to - some 12 miles away from the 50 m indoor pool in Erlangen (although I usually go to the pool which is located 1.5 miles away from my apartment).
So this should already demonstrate that there are plenty of opportunities to get into the water - within city limits of Erlangen there are at least two indoor facilities (open in winter) and several outdoor pools (open in summer) and most villages around have public pools as well. The Roethelheimbad (50 m indoor pool , open the whole year around plus an outdoor facility in the summer) is actually close to the Areva site.
This is a link, to get a few pictures of the public pools in Erlangen:
(sorry, only the navigation is available in english, the description itself is still in German)
There are several swim teams in Erlangen, I don't know them, but I am sure that they have either a masters program or another program you like - I will check the next time I go to the pool (I happen to have training in Erlangen this week) for a list of teams, and whether they have their own web site.
Feel free to email me any questions you might have about the area, I am happy to try to answer them.
By the time I found Bodo's letter in my email box, TJ had already replied:
Thank you Bodo. I am very excited about moving to Europe. As a matter of fact, the ONLY thing holding me here has been my masters swim team and the friends I have made at meets.
As the time for us to move approaches, I will have more questions. I believe that we will visit in May for one or two weeks to find a place and to see the area. Most of the American AREVA employees that I know of, live in Nurnberg, but we would enjoy living in a small town in the countryside too.
I look forward to meeting you.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
________________________________________ Thanks, Bodo.
TJ, Bodo is an incredibly nice guy. I had no idea that he had moved so close to where you are going, but now you will know a wonderful friend when you and your family are in Germany!
________________________________________ The next day, Craig responded, too:
Erlangen is just outside, (north), of Nurnberg....like most German cities it will have a swim club with a website and contact info. Masters swimming in Germany is everywhere, very well developed, and lots of fun. let me find their website with contact numbers and I'll get back to you.
their website is http://www.ssg81erlangen.de/training.htm,
their masters group is run by Jürgen Thiel, they have contact info etc on the site.
Thanks again for putting me in touch with Bodo and Craig. I will miss my swim team and meet friends, but I'm sure I'll make new ones. Plus, it's only 2-3 years.
See ya' Jim,
Time and again, it truly amazes and inspires me how our goofy sport of plodding back and forth in the water seems to unite and cement friendships in people who would otherwise have a nil probability of ever even seeing, let alone meeting each other.
TJ, AKA, Iwannafly, please do stay in touch with all of us here on the forums and let us know about your new German swimming friends.
I actually saw Craig's wife Lydia at the Y pool today. She hadn't seen the emails, but when I explained the situation, she told me she LOVED swimming masters in Germany. "They don't really get into the training so much as over here," she told me. "You might have scheduled practices two times a week. But they REALLY get into the meets. And the food they prepare afterwards is all home-cooked andwonderful."
Lydia also said that the Germans are extremely fastidious about their suits. The moment they finish a race, they take off a wet suit and put on a dry one. The men, she says, change on the deck! They wrap a modesty towel around their waists, drop the wet suit, then shimmy the dry one up unseen.
TJ, perhaps you might want to practice this maneuver at home before moving.
I was going to go onto Babelfish http://babelfish.yahoo.com/translate_txt and translate this whole page into what would surely be unreadable German. But I see that, as always, I have gone on a bit long in my vlog today!!!
Or as TJ might soon be saying this, Aber ich sehe, dass, als immer, ich auf eine Spitze lang in meinem vlog heute gegangen bin!!!
So, I shall just end with a few more pix gleaned from the Erlangen masters web site. These evidently show a bracing summer meet in a land thus far untouched by global warming: