The rapid growth of sporting achievements makes coaches look for new ways to get the best out of their athletes. The impact and effectiveness of the Mediterranean climate on training camps is well known. We offer an overview of the characteristics of the Greek sports facilities from the Aquatics coach of International Class Alexander Kravchuk, 11 years of coaching in Greece.
In total, I have visited 29 sports facilities in Greece and the Greek islands. I will dwell only on those where I’ve had experience of working for a long time – Crete.
For an indoor 50-meter swimming pool, which meets all the standards of FINA, I would choose Iraklion. The pool is equipped with German systems for filtration and the disinfection of water.
Also on the island of Crete, I would like to mention the two swimming pool training base called Nautical Club at Chania. There is an indoor 25-meter pool and an outdoor 50-meter swimming pool open all year round. Outdoors in winter with an air temperature of 12C, heated water vapour rises from the pool. After training, the athletes go for a hot shower to feel comfortable. The men’s water polo team prefers to spend their time here training in the winter.
I want to mention other professional sports facilities, which are located in Heraklion Crete. The Heraklion indoor sports arena located in a district called Dyo Aorakia and the Pankritio Stadium Olympic Stadium.
The first building, which locals call Heraklion Gym, is located in the Bodrum industrial zone of the city, close to Heraklion airport. The centre was built at a cost to the municipality of 28 million Euros.
The city and the island has an excellent reputation for competitions at national and international level. For example, in September 2016 the 1st Cretan International Basketball Tournament was held here. More than 8,000 spectators watched games played by the best basketball teams in Europe.
The Heraklion indoor sports arena is not only suitable for the most prestigious sporting events, but also for holding training camps for various sports: artistic and acrobatic gymnastics, trampoline, volleyball, contact combat sports, including boxing, table tennis, fencing, weightlifting and powerlifting. The Sports halls, which, if necessary, can be quickly converted into special task and exercise rooms meet international standards and provide for the training of athletes with disabilities.
The Pankritio Stadium is located in the city centre and has the capacity to hold 26240 spectators. The stadium has hosted several international competitions, including Olympic and Superleague Football matches in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
Pankritio is also a multifunctional centre, perfectly suited to training camps for football, athletics, boxing, taekwondo, shooting, fencing, dance sport, wrestling, karate, weightlifting. It includes two football fields to international standards, eight main and six auxiliary tracks, an indoor swimming pool, and multipurpose sports hall with a full range of fitness equipment.
The ease of training and holding camps at the Cretan stadium is due to the fact that Pankritio is near the beach and close to restaurants with a variety of special dining menus for athletes.
The summer Greek national swimming championship is traditionally held at the pool in the Olympic city of Arta.
The outdoor municipal swimming pool, which is 50 x 21 meters, has 8 lanes and is located in a picturesque green area. The pool has a well established system of recycling and water treatment. It has all the special sports equipment needed for swimming competitions and training camps.
Training meetings in Arta are suitable for teams who like ecology. There are mineral springs in the vicinity of the city. The generous nature in this part of Greece provides a unique opportunity to quickly restore well-being and greatly improve the athlete’s psychosomatics. Not without reason, the term has a Hellenic origin and means in Greek Psycho (ψυχή) -shower and catfish (σῶμα) – the body.
Getting to Arta by bus from Athens takes 6.5 hours or 5 hours from Thessaloniki Airport. A one-way or single ticket costs between 25-28 Euros.
Accommodation prices are very reasonable, because the city does not attract many tourists due to the lack of a beach. The distance to the Ionian Sea from Arta is about 10 km.
In recent years, I have worked with the city of Veria at the municipal swimming pool. It’s about an hour’s drive from Thessaloniki, with Thessaloniki International Airport being 108 km away. From the Capital’s International Eleftherios Venizilos airport by bus takes about 6 hours covering a distance of 545 km.
In my role as head coach, I worked at the “Naoussa” modern pool. The Indoor 50-meter pool at an altitude of 800 meters was opened in 2009. It has a capacity of 600 people. The pool is in excellent condition: 8 lanes, all with starting pedestals (75 cm). The water is normally heated to 27-28 degrees. For Coaches there is very convenient Electronic chronometry- display, touch panel, and high quality adjustable timers.
To achieve the desired performance during training process is very important to hold classes in the gym. Improvement of the dynamics in professional swimmers is done at Naoussa Hall and is achievable in a short period of time, because it is equipped with all the necessary training equipment.
For me, an important indicator of quality is the sanitary condition of the sports facility. Naoussa has a great water purification system, it is always clean in the locker room and everything is in good order around the pool. Municipal Sports Department periodically conducts anonymous surveys to assess the work at the pool and identify gaps.
The availability of medical services and free Wi-Fi, of course, deliver additional comfort.
Arriving at the camp in Berea, the sports clubs are located close small private hotels near an inexpensive high-quality restaurant. The Modern Naoussa pool is located in a popular part of Greece – Macedonia. The city, which spans the longest river in Greece, the Aliakmon, is set in a beautiful natural environment. There is only one small drawback for athletes who love to train in salty water- the sea is 18 km away.
In any weather and in any corner of Greece it is possible to hold sports events very effectively. Not only because of the mild Mediterranean climate, because Greece is washed by three seas – the Aegean, the Ionian and the Mediterranean. The country has a long tradition and respect for sport, and a motivational attitude towards professional athletes. Arriving here, athletes manage to focus your energy on training practice. In just a few days there is a positive change in thinking and most importantly, achieve progress in athletic performance.
I hope you’ll find my comments helpful.