Looking back to 2003, SwimTrek’s first year, brings me a mix of misty eyed sentimentality and pride in what we managed to achieve in that inaugural year.
It all kicked off in July of that year, when we ran our first ever trip to the Greek Cyclades. Our first base was the small island of Antiparos and from there we would swim to another 6 islands. One of the challenges that we faced was that what we were doing was so new, that however hard you tried to explain to people what we were doing, in many cases they just couldn’t grasp the concept! An example of the early struggles that we faced on that first ever trip was when we arrived to check into our hotel on the island of Ano Koufonissi and found that the hotelier had given all our reserved rooms away to other guests. When asked why she had done this she replied that as we hadn’t arrived on the only ferry of the day, then here was no other way of getting to the island!! She obviously hadn’t counted on our motto “Ferries are for Wimps: Let’s Swim!”
As well as the Greek Cyclades, in that first year we ran trips to the Hellespont in Turkey, Scottish Inner Hebrides, Isles of Scilly and the English Lake District. For the first few years, I would guide on every trip as well as answering calls as and when they came in. I remember pitching tents on the island of Jura on Scotland’s rugged west coast in a Force 6 wind, while handling phone enquiries about our upcoming trips. Over the years since, we have added excellent staff to our head office operations which means that I don’t have to be answering the phone whilst on location, both benefiting the guests on the trip and the client on the end of the line!
Indeed from the initial 5 trips we have now grown to over 40 different trips worldwide from as far west as Alcatraz to the Maldives in the east. The guides running these trips are generally very experienced open water swimmers and often have along with the local boat pilot, a good knowledge of the waters in which they are operating in.
These days I tend to spend my time primarily recceing new swim locations, but when I can fit it in, I love guiding on some of our trips, a lot them for 2016 which I am really excited about. From our new trips in Croatia’s stunning Kornati Islands, Italy’s Cinque Terre and Bay of Poets to Arizona’s Salt River to our classics in Greece, Italy and Croatia each of them have something unique to offer.
So 13 years on, it’s great to see how far we have come not only as an organisation but also as an idea and a concept, but it’s also exciting to see what else we could achieve in the next 13 years. Please come along and join this exciting journey.