Swimming pool “Lazúrnyj” or Azure (Бассейн “Лазурный”) is the most well-known of three indoor swimming pools in Pripyat. Centrally located on Sportivnaya Street, it sits beside Middle School Number 3.
The pools other claim to fame is having been featured in the video game “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare”.
As well as a pool the building also contains a gymnasium. Following the disaster the pool remained open for a further 10 years for use by those working at the power plants. Today that decade of additional use isn’t obvious with the condition of its crumbling interior matching those abandoned years earlier.
When I first visited Pripyat on a day trip we had to sweet talk our guide to allow us access but it is a common fixture on tours and on subsequent trips we had free reign. For the moment the structure of the building appears to be holding up reasonably well to the ravages of time.
Seeing the pool for the first time I couldn’t help but reflect on the impact of the disaster on the inhabitants of the city. Relatively few westerners can associate with a functioning Palace of Culture but almost everyone has experienced an indoor pool, often with memories from early childhood. No waft of chlorine now though.
On one of my visits heavy rain had resulted in puddles across the tiled floors but water doesn’t look out of place here. The first ladder leading up to the diving boards has been removed leaving me with rather an ungainly clamber up to the first board. The only saving grace being the absence of any witnesses. Shuffling towards the edge of the top board has always been fear inducing but with no water left I skipped the belly flop this time.
Film of the Swimming Pool Azure in use
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