I am big into planning and getting things done as soon as possible and so I spent a significant amount of time searching on the internet on where I could run, swim, rent a bike, and of course bike. As mentioned in my previous blog, one of the main reasons I chose the AirBnB was because it is very close to a track and actually several pools, but the issue I had was that these places do not have an official website with hours of operation and entrance requirements. All I could go off of were the reviews left on google by ordinary people that have gone to these places. They were nice to have, but sometimes these reviews state different things, sometimes even contradict one another, and things change so sometimes these reviews are out of date.
For example, with the track I felt confident that I would not have any issues because all the recent reviews stated almost the same things. It was open certain hours of the day to the public for free and closed for club training. On the other hand with the pool the google reviews were not providing me much certainty at all. There was mention of classes and competitions, but I could find anything definitive on lap swimming for a fee or free and whether it was open to foreigners too. There was another pool close by that belonged to a university and there you could go if you are a citizen so I knew that was not an option for me.
During the first full day in Medellin we walked around the whole sporting complex which included the soccer stadium, the track, indoor pavilions for basketball, gymnastics, wrestling, and more and also the three outdoor pools I had seen on google. We could not find the entrance though and after a while gave up and continued exploring the city. These first few days I had anyway planned to take it easy with some light running before I figured out the pool situation.
The first few runs I went to the track without any issues. All I had to do was sign in at the front. I thought I would be okay with running on a track, but to me it is just way too boring. After a few runs I could not take it anymore and I decided to run loops around the entire sports complex on the walk/run/bike pathway. Since I do not wear headphones I do need a bit of change around me.
After a bit more research I found another pool that is close to a mall we wanted to check out about 15 minutes away by Uber. I saw a few reviews by foreigners that stated that they only needed to show their passport to enter so I took mine too and my swimming gear. Fortunately the process was as smooth as the reviews stated it would be and it was free. I was a bit concerned about having to take my passport each time, but at my next visit I took both my drivers license and the passport and handed them the license. I wanted to see if they would accept the license for identification or if it had to be a passport since I am a foreigner. The guy at the entrance looked at the license and let me in. From then on I did not bring my passport. Yay!
It was a 50 meter pool, but everyone has to swim horizontally so basically a 25 meter pool. The best time to go is before all the kids come after school because their practice takes up half the pool and physical therapy/mobility classes for the older people. In any case it reduced the space for the rest of us that just want to swim laps. If you go before the kids come it is quiet and just perfect. The one negative thing about this particular pool is that at least according to google they are closed on the weekends. I do not why, but I never asked in person to confirm that, but on one of the weekends that I did want to do another swim I decided to go to another pool that was supposedly open. Shortly after arriving I realized that I was not going to get much of a swim in because it is a family pool. They even told me to take my watch off to dissuade me from trying to do laps. It was a bit of a waste of time, but at least I got to see another pool and even watch some little kids play a soccer game. I do find it impressive the network of community pools that Medellin has to provide its citizens and visitors. At least for me in the places that I have been, this is unheard of, especially considering these are great clean pools that are well maintained and honestly better than the swimming pools that I have gone to in Miami.
I do wish that I had tried a little bit harder to figure out the deal with the pools by the stadium. During some of my evening runs I did see swim meets taking place so maybe these are more competition and training squad facilities, but I do not know for certain. Next time I will find out.
In the next blog I will write about the last component of triathlon that I did not touch in this one, cycling. Medellin has an amazing cycling culture and I cannot wait to share more about it in the next blog.