Brussels-City Daily Laps: 3x The Cost Of Other Cities

Sarhan Basem
Credit: Stad Brussel

The City of Brussels has abolished half-year subscriptions in its municipal swimming pools. Those who come to swim every day will therefore have to dig much deeper into their pockets from this year onwards. The price of individual tickets will increase slightly, but will remain among the lowest prices in the region.

The regular customers of the swimming pool on the Place des Vossen in the Marolles are unpleasantly surprised by the new prices that their swimming pool has implemented. Until the end of 2022, they paid a hundred euros for a six-month subscription. With that subscription they could swim as often as they wanted.

But the new price list no longer includes a six-month subscription. Those who come swimming twice or more per week will therefore end up much more expensive since the new price system.

“I think they have forgotten us,” says An Mertens, who has been swimming almost every day for twenty years in the pool at Vossenplein. She belongs to the group of about two hundred people who bought a six-month subscription twice a year. She could swim unlimited for twice a hundred euros.

Two hundred euros on an annual basis is an amount that many people can afford. But for anyone who swims twice a week or more, it will be a lot more expensive. Daily swimmers – such as Mertens – will now pay more than seven hundred euros annually.

Instead of subscriptions, the swimming pool now offers 50 swimming sessions for 100 euros. So nothing changes for those who come swimming about once a week. The card remains valid for one year. So on an annual basis the amount is still 200 euros.

But a lot of people come to swim more often. People who swim daily are particularly affected by the new price list. This is annoying for people who chose swimming for medical reasons, such as people with diabetes, people who have had cancer or people with serious back problems.

In addition, the pool also has a social function. “There are swimmers for whom the daily visit is their only social contact,” says daily swimmer Imke Roebken. “I swim laps in the morning with a 55-year-old woman who lives just outside Brussels City – and therefore pays an even higher rate. She works in a hotel as a chambermaid. She won’t be able to come often anymore.” She regrets that students and young people over the age of 16 also have to pay full price.

Retrieve Subscription

Mie Demin, who swims her laps every day, is therefore surprised that the City of Brussels could not come up with a formula for regular swimmers. The difference in the price increases is large: individual tickets are fifteen percent more expensive, a subscription for daily swimming is more than three hundred percent more expensive.

Demin has contacted the swimming pool with the request to introduce a subscription, for example of one hundred euros per three months. “That is double compared to the current price. So then you end up with 400 euros on an annual basis.”

At the time of writing, it is not yet clear whether the swimming pool or the cabinet of the competent ships will accept the offer. Employees of the cabinet of ships Benoit Hellings (Ecolo) is open to discussing the matter further with the regular swimmers. Meanwhile, municipal councilor Els Ampe (Open VLD) is preparing a motion that calls for the price of the annual subscription to be reduced to two hundred euros per year.

‘Not Out of The Costs With Subscriptions’

The rates had not been adjusted since 2010, the spokesman for the Cabinet of the Aldermen of Sport Benoit Hellings (Ecolo) told BRUZZ. The cabinet has mapped the prices of the other swimming pools and has thus arrived at a new price for the individual tickets. In Brussels, a separate ticket costs 3.20 euros. This is in line with the price of individual tickets in other municipalities.

The social showers – for people who cannot shower at home – have become cheaper and now cost 2 euros. The social tariffs for low-income people will continue to exist.

It is only the price of the subscriptions that changes drastically. According to spokesman François Descamps, this was no longer in proportion to the costs incurred by the swimming pool. “We did the calculations and came to the conclusion that people come to swim for 55 cents a day. That is less than the amount you pay for a person in the toilets of McDonalds.”

That while the swimming pool has to pay different employees and not just a toilet attendant. Because the annual allowance from the City of Brussels may well have increased from 1.7 million to 2.4 million – that amount is intended for the maintenance and salaries of the staff of the three baths of the City of Brussels. The energy costs are not included.

In response to the question of why the difference in price increases is so great between individual tickets and those who used to have a subscription system, Descamps replies that it is difficult to break the costs with subscriptions. He would understand if other municipalities were to abolish the subscription form in due course.

Subscriptions in The Rest of Brussels

As a reminder: In Brussels City, from 2023 onwards, this amounts to an amount of 770 euros per year for daily bathers. These amounts apply to the swimming pool in the Marolles as well as to the other swimming pools on the territory of the city of Brussels, in Neder-over-Heembeek and Laeken.

Only Uccle is more expensive for daily swimmers. They pay 918 euros on an annual basis for daily use of the swimming pool. There is no subscription formula there either, which pushes the price up. On the other hand, the water quality is among the best in Brussels – according to the Brussels authority Brulabo. That costs extra money, the director explains. But: “the water quality is certainly appreciated by swimmers.”

The costs of subscriptions in other municipalities fluctuate around two hundred euros on an annual basis. It is not certain whether these municipalities will also adjust the rates in the course of January.

The price of swimming daily for a year in the swimming pools of Brussels. The first amount is the price for residents, the second amount is the price for non-residents.

Ceria in Anderlecht: 200 euros per year
Espadon in Etterbeek: 180 / 200 euros per year
Triton in Evere: 176 / 270 per year
Nereus in Ganshoren 250 / 400 euros per year
Namèche in Molenbeek 200 / 270 euros per year
Neder-Over-Heembeek swimming pool: 770 / 980 euros per year
Swimming pool of Laeken 770 / 980 euros per year
Calypso in Watermael-Boitsfort: 200 / 265 per year
Victor Boin in Saint-Gilles: 192 / 272 per year
Baths of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode: 100 / 150 euros per year
Sportcity in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre: 200 / 250 euros per year
Poséidon in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert: 210 / 290 euros per year
Swimming pool of the City of Brussels: 770 / 980 euros per year
Longchamp in Uccle: 918 / 1,500 euros per year
In an earlier version of this article, we wrote that daily swimmers in Brussels City pay 600 euros per year. We started from the calculation that someone goes swimming 25 times a month and therefore buys six cards with fifty swimming sessions. The price for daily swimming is even higher: then you have to buy seven cards for fifty swimming sessions, or 770 euros per year.

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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.