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August 9, 2013

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Locals make a splash on ‘free’ Fitness Day

Local residents queued for access to city’s swimming pools yesterday even as some of the commercial sports venues participated in the “one day free campaign” to mark the fifth National Fitness Day yesterday.

More than 300 sports venues across the city offered free access to the public yesterday.  They were joined for the first time by commercial ventures like the ice-skating center in Pudong and gyms with memberships in downtown area.

But swimming pools drew the maximum crowd, given the record-breaking heat wave in the city. It also remains the most popular sport that fits in both as exercise and relaxation.

The number of people queuing up to have a splash at the Jing’an Sports Center yesterday was double than usual. The center had asked people to reserve their time and were only allowed to use the water for an hour and a half.

“There are too many people in the pool today. We are just getting wet instead of swimming,” a woman, who wouldn’t give her name, complained as she climbed out of the pool with her daughter after spending only half an hour in the water.

In another swimming club in Jing’an District, reservations for late evening was completely booked. “Morning and afternoon are still all right but the evening sessions are fully booked,” a staff member said.

The Shanghai Oriental Sports Center said they had received more bookings for badminton indoor courts while people squeezed into the pools.

“It’s actually hard to tell if there are more people today than usual, because we are packed every day,” said Pan Dong of the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center. About 5,000 to 6,000 people use their three pools every day, while on weekends the number goes up to 8,000.

“Management is not a big problem as generally most Shanghai citizens are well-behaved,” said Pan.

According to the Shanghai Sports Bureau, about 5.63 million have used the 598 swimming pools in the city since late June, with 98 percent meeting the water quality standard.

The Shanghai Feiyang Ice-Sports Center, with its ski rinks, in the Pudong New Area was also a popular destination on the “free day.”

The first diving competition for citizens is being held at the Oriental Sports Center.

About 500 people between the ages of seven to 70 have signed up for the event.



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