Munich set itself a goal of making the Isar River drinkable by 2005, and nearly did it. Either way, the river is most definitely clean enough to wade in on a hot summer day. Hundreds of people sunbathe on the banks upriver from the Deutsches Museum and take the occasional dip. If you prefer stiller waters, you can try swimming outdoors in the Isar River at the Maria-Einsiedel public pool complex. However, because the water comes from the Alps, it's frigid even in summer. Warmer lakes near Munich are the Ammersee and the Starnbergersee.
There are also a number of public pools and spas in Munich if you just have to get in the water while you're here.
Dante-Winter-Warmfreibad. The Dantebad has a heated, outdoor Olympic-size pool; in summer the place is packed. They also have a pool available in winter, which is usually not too crowded and provides a nice respite in the frigid months. Postillonstr. 17, Neuhausen-Nymphenburg, Munich, Bavaria, 80637. 089/2361–5050; www.swm.de/privatkunden/m-baeder/schwimmen/freibaeder/dante-winter-warmfreibad.html.
Müller'sches Volksbad. The Müller'sches Volksbad is in a glorious Jugendstil (the Munich-based art nouveau movement) building right on the Isar. Even if not to swim, take a look inside and out. The pool is small but functional. There is also a sauna and steam bath area (mixed, birthday suit required) that is fantastic for a chilly winter's afternoon. Bathing on Tuesday from 3 pm to 8 pm is reserved for women only. Rosenheimerstr. 1, Haidhausen, Munich, Bavaria, 81667. 089/2361–5050; www.swm.de/privatkunden/m-baeder/schwimmen/hallenbaeder/volksbad.html.
Nordbad. The Nordbad is known for its stately swimming hall, large outdoor pool, and spacious sauna area. Schleissheimer Str. 142, Schwabing, Munich, Bavaria, 80797. 089/2361–5050; www.swm.de/privatkunden/m-baeder/schwimmen/hallenbaeder/nordbad.html.
Olympia-Schwimmhalle. The Olympia-Schwimmhalle has an Olympic-size pool and a sauna area with a "steam cavern" as an extra delight. Olympiapark, Coubertinpl. 1, Milbertshofen, Munich, Bavaria, 80809. 0800/796--7960; www.swm.de/privatkunden/m-baeder/schwimmen/hallenbaeder/olympia-schwimmhalle.html.