Cover up, please! Polish pool lays bare public-nudity rules for Czechs

A public pool in the appropriately named border town of Prudnik is asking Czech visitors to cover up.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 15.11.2023 15:03:00 (updated on 15.11.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Residents in the southwestern Polish town of Prudnik, just 5 kilometers from Czechia, are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with Czech guests’ open displays of nudity in the changing rooms of the local swimming pool.

According to Polish news site Nowa Trybuna Opolska (NTO), tensions have been laid bare at the city of Prudnik’s Sójka indoor swimming pool, where management recently posted a Czech-language sign asking cross-border visitors to refrain from walking nude in shared changing rooms and showers.

Many Czechs living near the border area use the Prudnik pool as it is the nearest one to them.

Director of Prudnik’s municipal sports commission Małgorzata Halek-Malinowska said that given the absence of an adult-only changing area – and the fact that children use the same space to change – it's especially important that visitors take advantage of private cubicles to dress and undress.

A question of cultural differences

The clash originates from differing cultural attitudes toward nudity. Czech visitors, accustomed to changing openly in locker rooms, expressed surprise at Prudnik's reservations. One Czech woman told NTO: “In our country, no one is offended by the idea of changing in front of children,” noting her observance of Polish swimmers' reluctance to strip naked even in showers. She explained that nudity allows washing to be more thorough, which is important “for the sake of health and hygiene.”

NTO highlighted a reciprocal cultural shock experienced by Poles visiting Czech pools, where public nudity is common. A resident of the Polish border town of Głuchołazy recounted an incident in the nearby village of Česká Ves (Olomouc), where a Czech father showered together with his young daughter, unfazed by nearby naked men. The Pole felt that the situation he saw had been “awkward.”

In the debate on public pool nudity, do you side with team Poland or Czechia?

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The news site also comments that enjoying a sauna session in the nude is also far more common in Czechia, which could explain Czechs feeling more at ease with nudity in shared bathing spaces.

Nudity is generally accepted in Czechia – a socially liberal country by Central and East European standards – with organized nudism being legal for around 40 years. The landlocked country boasts over 100 nudist beaches.

The issue at the Prudnik pool certainly dips a toe into the waters of cultural contrasts and offers clear advice to anyone planning a Polish holiday: be sure to pack your modesty along with your swim trunks.

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