Travel the World
Four Ways of Looking at a Pool
Swimming pools are an excellent way to cool off as the temperature rises. But there’s much more that you can do with them besides going for a swim. Here are some of the possibilities.
The next best thing to champagne on ice might be prima ballerinas underwater, at least to the eye of photographer Howard Schatz, who has produced dozens of pictures of dancers in the deep end. Schatz got hooked on the concept when he shot a member of the San Francisco Ballet performing “without gravity.” For this picture, staged in his studio pool in Sherman, Connecticut, he used dancers who promised that they’d be “fearless” underwater … or at least relaxed enough to smile. But his favorite element is the natural light. “You don’t normally see a corps de ballet in sunlight,” Schatz avers, putting a new spin on the idea of total immersion in the arts.
Perhaps the world’s most mysterious pool is located inside Angkor Wat, a massive 12th-century temple in Cambodia. The pool was likely used for Hindu purification ceremonies, says Roland Fletcher, a professor of archaeology at the University of Sydney. As for how it was regularly filled given its jungle surroundings, Fletcher notes that Khmer builders were excellent engineers, famous for moving large quantities of water over miles for their crops. What’s certain: It’s been splash-free for a few hundred years. The Khmer people abandoned the city of Angkor in the 1500s. In the mid-1800s, French colonialists began restoration of the temple. Now it attracts some 1.5 million tourists annually.
In hard-hit Fresno, California, an upside to the mortgage crisis: Emptied swimming pools behind foreclosed homes make champion skate ramps. Skate punks like Josh Peacock, 27, pictured here, seek out houses whose parched lawns are dead giveaways of vacancy. Working with friends and, he says, usually with permission, Peacock drains, pumps, and scrubs the would-be skate parks. As he tells it, the dirty work-extracting dead possums, rats, and trash-is worth it: Skating the pool, he says, “is like riding a roller coaster when you’re not strapped in.”
We’re guessing they don’t have lap time at the largest swimming pool on earth, which opened nearly three years ago at the San Alfonso del Mar resort on the central coast of Chile. Twenty acres in size and equivalent to 6,000 inground backyard pools, the aquatic oasis holds 66 million gallons of turquoise water, not to mention boat docks. San Alfonso, a luxury housing experiment, has since become “the most successful second-home complex in Chile” and a draw for international jet-setters, says Eduardo Klein, business manager for Crystal Lagoons. The company says its next step will be to re-create the ocean experience at sites where water is nonexistent, polluted, or impossible to get to. It plans to dig a new swimming hole in Egypt within the year-the pool is expected to be ten acres larger than San Alfonso’s.