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Swimming for Preservation Print E-mail

Renate Herberger was interviewed at Casa Colina / Santa Teresa after her day in the water. This was Renate's 38th day of swimming every day for 7-9 hours and covering between 15-20 kms each day. When we talked with 52-year-old Renate, the self-styled "Costa Rica Mermaid", originally from Baden-Baden, Germany, she had already swum a total of more than 600 kms in those 38 days.

Because of various injuries and medical conditions, she is happiest in the bouyancy of seawater and now swims in locations all over the world, using her disabilities as an asset to help save her ailing mentor, teacher and personal sanctuary - the ocean. She wants to inspire the creation of marine sanctuaries worldwide to return to the ocean the gifts she gets from the ocean.

Renate arises each day around 4:30, and by 5:30 she's on the support boat, 3 kms from shore. Once in the water, wearing many layers of lycra for protection from jelly fish, she takes yogurt breaks, lasting 30 seconds, every half hour or so. Yogurt helps the pain in the mouth from the constant contact with the salty water. On a lucky day she might get to pet an enourmous Manta Ray, or play with dolphins. On unlucky days, she gets "fire kisses" from jellyfish, and her face looks as if it has been lashed with a cat- of- nine tails. At noon she is hauled in "like a dead fish, since my climbing -into-the -boat skills are not good. Thankfully the boat drivers are very strong and enjoy the close contact with the “mermaid”.

She eats a hearty lunch, and 30 minutes later starts swimming again, for about 8 hours daily, altering strokes when needed. She uses a mask and snorkel to reduce neckpain acquired from several car collisions ie. whiplash. If the current is going in her direction she covers up to 25kms in a day. She uses GPS to not swim against currents and alters the route to follow with the currents. She says "By the time I am done swimming, I'm usually famished, and dinner is the number 1 priority".

Her expenses are covered by herself and donations - she currently has no official sponsor and has been helped a lot for this part of the swim by Sano Banano and Cocozuma Tours of Montezuma. So far she has spent $1400 just on support boats, but some boatmen have done it for free, provided food, lodging, etc. This is her 2nd time in Costa Rica, and she has been written up in The Tico Times, La Teja and La Nacion; she wants to do something similar again, but prefers a sponsor for the whole trip. To learn more about this intrepid mermaid, and her "Tikkun Olam" - her offering to the world, visit her very informative website at www.costaricamermaid.net

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