There’s some serious swimming at Heredia’s public pool

Trainer Mario Ureña chats with a swimmer. Photo: A.M. Costa Rica/Connie Foss

The concept of the power lunch is taken to a new level at the Heredia municipal pool.

During lunch hour, the pool’s lap lanes are congested with men and women getting down to the business of swimming. Freelance trainer Mario Ureña assigns specific swim regimens to a group of businessmen who gather every day to enjoy swimming as well as train for competitive events. Ureña, a professor of physics at the Universidad Nacional in Heredia lives in San Miguel de Desamparados. He has been enjoying this lunchtime activity at the pool for about 12 years, he said.

One of the men who benefits from Ureña’s swim instruction is Heredia lawyer and notary Juan Carlos Camacho. Camacho said he met Ureña at the pool in 1999. He had just returned from a study tour in Barcelona where he had begun swimming and wanted to continue to receive coaching after his return to Costa Rica. “We met, and I told him I wanted to train with him,” he said. He has been training with Ureña at the Heredia pool since then.

Camacho said he goes to the pool at lunch time for three reasons: Fun, exercise and competition. “Swimming helps me get away from my daily concerns and keeps me in shape. I´m 40 years old. And, I like to compete in open water,” he said. Swimming is his main form of exercise. “I’m also going to the gym, but only occasionally. I go to the pool every day from Monday to Friday and occasionally on Saturdays,” he said.

Trainer Ureña prepares a weekly individualized program, corrects technique and also trains himself, because, according to Camacho, “He is also a very good swimmer!”

“Swimming has not only changed my body, but my life,” said Comacho. “I hope I can swim even in my golden years.”

Ureña is helping his swimmers prepare for a competition to be held in Punta Leona on the first weekend in April. Saturday’s race will be 3 K and Sunday’s race will be 2.5 K.

Others who are not Ureña’s students also come to the pool.

On a bright, sunny day Diego Chacon, 23, and Adriana Brenes, 25, met for a swim before going to work. They, like Ureña’s students, visit the Heredia public pool for a combination of exercise and recreation during the lunch hour.

Both said they come to the Heredia public pool three times a week to exercise and enjoy the nice environment. Chacon and Ms. Brenes are trainers at a gymnasium in Barva, where they go to work after their noon hour swim in the pool. Ms. Brenes says, with a smile, that she is Chacon’s personal swim trainer.

Chacon said that he does not come to the pool much during rainy season because of the danger of thunderstorms. He also said that, since the pool is unheated, in the rainy season the water is “like the ninth circle of hell,” a reference to Dante “Divine Comedy.”

The Heredia public pool is located in the sports complex next to El Palacio del Deportes. The pool is unheated, Olympic-size (50 meters in length) and surrounded by palm trees and concrete benches for picnicking. It is open every day of the week for groups and individuals. The pool is divided into a lap section and free swimming section. There is also a smaller wading pool for children, adjacent to the larger pool. There are spacious, clean changing rooms equipped with open showers, also unheated.

Adult admission is 1,000 colons (about $2). Hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

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