INDIANAPOLIS -- She reminds you of summer camp, when a counselor would ask who wanted to swim what events in the big meet. Silvia Poll is the kid who would wave her hand wildly and chirp: "Can I swim in all of 'em?"

She is the major splash of the Pan American Games so far, helping Costa Rica to earn a dreamy double within a period of slightly more than a few days -- in politics and in sport.

The Americas snapped to attention last week when Costa Rica proposed the regional peace plan four of its troubled neighbors also signed.

That is partly why 16-year-old Poll had not yet received a congratulatory call from Costa Rica's president, Oscar Arias Sanchez, early yesterday.

"He had a lot of things on his mind," she said.

Still, everybody back home is thrilled about Poll snapping that zero-for-the-Pan Ams slump in individual medals. She won the first gold medal Sunday in the 100-meter freestyle, the second Monday in the 200 freestyle and the third yesterday in the 100 backstroke relay. She also anchored Costa Rica to a silver in the 4x200 freestyle relay and a bronze in the 4x100 freestyle relay.

That's amazing athletic treasure hunting. Into the water five times in finals; out of it with five medals. And she's not finished yet.

Two more events are on her schedule, the 50-meter freestyle and the 200 backstroke. She answered the obvious question before yesterday's 4x100 freestyle relay by saying: "No, I'm not tired."

Before Poll hit the water Sunday, the only Costa Rica medal had been the silver its soccer team won in the first Pan Am games, 1951. She arrived here unheralded, but not without pressure.

"All of the country knew I might be the only one to win a gold medal," she said. "They all were looking for me."

She is impossible to overlook, being 6-foot-2. Had the United States decided to send its best swimmers, instead of the third and fourth best in most events, Poll might have been somewhat ignored.

The golds might have been silver, the silvers bronze. Still, it's neat that a Costa Rica gets the chance to strut in international company now and then.

Swimming devotees believe Poll can be a serious threat in the 1988 Summer Olympics, even against the American and East German machines. She will not spread herself over so many events.

"One of the finest talents I've seen come along," said U.S. swim Coach Skip Kenney. "Her 100 and 200 free times would have won our national championships."

Poll's coach is even more emphatic.

"She's like a computer," Francisco Riva said. "I program her to do what I want her to do and she goes out and does it."

Kenney was impressed with Poll's improvement in about a year, she having not been overly impressive in last year's world championships.

"We saw her warm up the first morning here," Kenney admitted, "and knew she was talented."

Can she be beaten?

Laughed Kenney: "We hope she'll get tired."

The relays have been most exhausting, Poll said, because she has had to stretch so far to overcome other countries and grab a medal.

"We haven't been able to stay close to her going out {in the individual events}," Kenney said. "Her speed is pretty amazing. She had open water for the last 25 meters of the 100 back."

Like lots of athletes, Poll is not a native of the country she has done proud. She was born of German parents in Nicaragua.

Her father's specialty was a form of agriculture best applied to Central America, said Poll, whose English bears a strong trace of German. The family left Nicaragua in 1979 "because the political problem was going to explode any moment."

Even in the brief interviews permitted after the heats and finals, Poll shows her evident love for her new country.

"Costa Rica doesn't have an army," she said. "It's said that the Costa Rican army is school teachers. Every small town has teachers; most children know how to read and write.

"That's very good. Such a stable democracy. The voting days are the happiest of every four years. Like a holiday, with parades. Many countries come to see how this {government} works."

As a swimmer, Poll works no differently than most of her elite peers. She knows about difficulties having nothing to do with water.

"I have to spend about $5,000 each year in travel," she said. "Then there is equipment. And diet. And we {Costa Rican athletes} don't get any help from our country."

Irritants here included getting caught in the room squeeze at the Pan Am Village and having to stay in a nearby hotel.

"Success makes me feel better, because of all the problems," she said. "It makes me feel a lot happier, more proud of myself."

When the competition ends, she will go home and stay there. No American college will welcome yet another gifted athletic import.

"I will not go to the U.S.," she said. "I have proved now that I don't have to swim or train in the U.S. to better myself."

Here she grins.

"Maybe U.S. swimmers should come to Costa Rica to improve."