Pat Cheek

Costa Rica’s Mermaid: Renate Herberger

Renate HerbergerBy Pat Cheek 

I recently spent a little time with Renate at the Hotel Parador. It was a day off from her swimming and teaching  before moving on. 

As  a little background, Renate began swimming at the  age of 4 when her mother coaxed her into ever deepening water until she was swimming- we should say she’s been swimming ever since.  She has logged about 4,800 km and still kicking since making saving the oceans her life calling. 

Renate suffered a medical disaster in 2005 when a torn meniscus turned into a massive thrombosis, neglected too long by her health care provider, there was nothing that could be done. In need of reinventing herself she looked to what she loved, swimming. The swimming helps her to manage her health problem and benefits the ocean .

 In 2007, Renate came to Costa Rica for an open ocean 7km race. Her journey then brought her to the first ever crossing of Golfo Dulce’s 22km by an open ocean swimmer. The publicity this swim generated has showed her the way to continue her swims. This is her 5th swim of the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, beginning at the Panama border, finishing at the Nicaragua border. She often spends 8 hours in the water and finds that the benefits to her health and well being are immense. 

Renate’s goal is for the entire coast of Costa Rica, preferably both the Pacific and Caribbean, is to be designated Marine Sanctuaries. She certainly isn’t against sport fishing or commercial fishing but stated that regulations are going to have to be enforced if the oceans are to be saved.  She stated that the effects of global warming, over- fishing and environmental neglect will have our oceans without edible fish by 2048 – if nothing changes.  As a part of this needed change, she put her background in education into the educating of school children along the way. Now she teaches in local schools every other day between swimming. Teaching marine education and conservation to children of all ages believing the children are our hope for the future in learning the benefits of protecting the ocean and teaching others.

 She plans two more trips to Costa Rica to continue to swim the coast in hopes of realizing this goal. 

Renate depends on donations and the generosity of people and places along her swim. Hotel Parador sponsored her time in this area and helped to set her teaching schedule as well. She was very grateful for their assistance and generosity. She invites our readers to visit her website at, or email her at [email protected]  for more information.    It was a pleasure visiting with her and we wish her well.