Here in Moscow, at the Olympic pool specifically, if you don’t have your ducks in a row, you’re setting yourself up for trouble. But this week, I finally got it right!
My first mistake was going to the pool a couple months ago, thinking I could talk myself in to at least look at the pool. That didn’t go so well. My purposefully “poor” Russian didn’t work its usual magic (normally what happens is the Russian is so impressed that I’m even trying, that they’ll be a little more lenient or helpful). I tried to get past the guard babushka to go look at the pool. Wasn’t gonna happen, not without 240 rubles and a doctor’s note.
The second time, I went to the pool with the spravka in hand, 240 rubles, and all my crap. Well, I thought it was all my crap. They don’t issue towels. Not only that, but you better bring a plastic bag to put your dirty disgusting outdoor shoes in or else you’re opening up yourself to possible reprisals from guard babushka #2, better known as the locker-room babushka.
Trip #3 went well…until the lifeguard stopped me to inform me about the critical requirement to have your head covered. In that case, my fake crappy Russian worked.
On the 27th I had all my ducks in a row. Everything was going right. Unfortunately, about 15 minutes into my warm-up, I noticed that the only other swimmers in my lane had been alive during WWII. I noticed the board on the starting block had an adjective I had not seen before. I looked a few lanes over, and sure enough, the other signs were the ones I was used to: Разовые Билеты (Single tickets). The one in my lane had the additional adjective: Льготные. I didn’t know what that meant, so I asked a Russian guy in the adjacent lane. Well, turns out I was in the lane for those swimmers given a complimentary ticket, because they are so bloody old. Whoops. Another fail.
So, finally, TA-DA, trip #5 on the 28th went perfectly. I had every requisite piece of equipment with me and successfully swam without interruption from the lifeguards. Success!