British Swimmers Find Fitness And Friends In Arona

Half term holiday brought full dedication from the swimmers of four British swimming clubs as they ploughed their way through the 7 lane, 50 metre long Olympic sized outdoor pool in Los Cristianos, Arona. All were regular annual visitors to Tenerife and the Complejo Deportivo Jesus Dominguez Grillo in Avenida Chayofita for early morning training.

Southport Swimming Club had the 7.30 to 9.30 am shift under the watchful eyes of their Head Coach, Mark Patrickson and his three coaches. “We’ve brought 30 male and female swimmers, over the 10 years we have been coming over it’s changed a little from mainly 9 to 13 year olds to 12 to 18 years old. The programme works well, we do 11 two hour sessions during our week stay. In all we have 80 people in our party, as most swimmers come with parents on a mix of flights. There’s a well worn tradition of meeting up early on the first training morning on the steps of the Apolo Centre, handy as we stay at apartments in San Marino, Tenerife Sur, and Cristian Sur. We always get made welcome in the area, The Shires in the Apolo Centre does two big sittings for us to have breakfast on the way back from the pool. The junior and national championships are coming up early next year so the Tenerife training gives them all a boost to improve their performances.”

Next in the pool were Ulster Schools Swimming Association, they have been coming to Tenerife for 30 years, in the early days they trained in Puerto de la Cruz but are keen converts to the south. Head Coach Katherine Wiley outlined their own particular needs. “We have 26 swimmers, two coaches, and three managers with us. It has all come together fairly quickly for our under 14s as they had to qualify for the trip via galas in the province. They are pretty much strangers to each other so that makes it slightly more difficult but they soon make new friends, we are have a 30 year reunion soon, many of those attending will have become friends through trips with us. The immediate aim is the Irish championships in December. Our regular base here is the Bitacora Hotel just up the road, they look after our needs and we fly in with Jet2, their easy check in service for the luggage means all their gear is waiting for us at the hotel.”
Team Manager Heather Henderson was also struck by the welcome that Ulster receive. “ We walk to the pool from the hotel and they buy water and bits and pieces at the Papelaria Raquel shop on the way. Raquel is a real character, on the last day she treats them all to pastries and lollies.”

The pool is also well used by local groups, schools, and for public swimming sessions. It was noticeable how attentive the staff were to the teams needs. Susanah Garcia, who manages the pool for the Arona Council smoothes the way for all the visitors, it all makes for a relaxed atmosphere of encouragement and support from the coaches and managers at pool side. During the week the teams became a regular sight at Los Cristianos beach, and took time out at Siam Park. Their distinctive kit bags, team shirts, and joyful enthusiasm were their constant companions.

Pooling their talents were the combined Ards, and Banbridge Swimming Clubs, also from Northern Ireland, who come over as one party. Team manager Michael Angus, one of four team managers, put them through their paces. “This is our third year over, this time with 24 swimmers, slightly younger with a 12 to 16 age range. It´s all about building them up with the short course national and European trials next on the horizon, they need to hit peak form at the right time.”

Talking of choices, the party made the right flight choice. “There are two airlines that cover our trip, when we booked we went for Jet 2, the other choice would have been Thomas Cook. Our base is Paradise Park Hotel, it´s up the hill from the pool but the walk to and from the pool for the two daily sessions is all part of the experience, and they look after us very well up there.”