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Meet the SwimTrekker

Around The World In 80 Swims (Part Four)

By Jack Hudson , 21 September, 2022

For the final time, we're ready to launch ourselves headfirst into another 20 astonishing adventures in seas, rivers, lakes, ponds - you name it! It's the final stretch in our open water odyssey. So, what better way to keep up our momentum than by chucking more adrenaline and wonder into these mythic tales of endurance and exploration? Keep a look out for entries every Thursday and please do continue to share any of your own stories with us as we thunder to the finish line. We hope you enjoy Part Four of this global feature series: Around The World In 80 Swims...


  1. Saoirse McGrath (Greek Cyclades, Greece)
  2. Caoimhe Gowran (Crete, Greece)
  3. Marlys Cappaert (River Canyons, Arizona)
  4. Virginia Street (The Maldives)
  5. Marco Piras (Maddalena Islands, Sardinia)
  6. Jo Whiley (Latitude Festival, UK)
  7. Karen De Jongh (Lake Washington, Seattle)
  8. Emma Richards (River Thames, UK)
  9. Nicky Chapman (Balearic Islands, Spain)
  10. Angela M (Kornati Islands, Croatia)
  11. Clancy Murie (Hellespont, Turkey)
  12. Val Greenwood (Outer Hebrides, Scotland)
  13. Jane Frechette (Durdle Door, England)

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61. Saoirse McGrath (Greek Cyclades, Greece)

At the time of speaking to us, Saoirse was guiding on our Greek Cyclades trip...

"I absolutely love the Greek Cyclades. Each island is beautiful and vibrant in its own way. They allow you to see an authentic perspective of the Greek Islands, more genuine than some other, more populated: 'holiday destinations'. From the generous and kind locals, to the white-washed cuboid houses, the old windmills, and not to mention the ridiculously tasty food, the Greek Cyclades SwimTrek allows these idyllic images to become a reality."

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"From growing up on the West Coast of Ireland, I've been so used to swimming in dark green, murky water, only able to see a couple of metres ahead of me - even getting caught in random pieces of seaweed! By comparison, the crystal clear Aegean sea is truly stunning to swim in. The rays of sunshine glisten through the water, while you spot the shoals of fish below. The scenery above and below the water constantly reminds you of how incredible the locations are. Having access to uninhabited islands and unique routes makes this trip extraordinary. You get to swim beside breathtaking natural wonders such as cliffs, caves and unspoiled historic monuments. You'll find yourself quite often needing moments to take it all in."

"Every guest is blown away by the picturesque landscapes and relaxing atmosphere on the islands. When it's time to finish a swim and hop on the yacht, they never want to get out of the water! By the end of the trip, the guests tell me how well the group bonds together and how they've surprised themselves in terms of their swimming abilities and overall confidence. I don't think I'll ever meet anyone who dislikes the Greek Cyclades. It's absolutely amazing."

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"We have 2 swims per day which involves a perfect mix of coastal and crossing swims. The coastal swims allow for more exploration and discovery by swimming through caves or identifying the sea life. The crossing swims are great for a bit more of a challenge as you cross from one small island to another, practicing your sighting and techniques. Each day is different and each day you will discover something wonderful, whether it be about yourself and your own personal development, a cool underwater feature, or perhaps a turtle or some dolphins!"

"I don't think I'll ever meet anyone who dislikes the Greek Cyclades. It's absolutely amazing..."

"One of the main reasons I got more involved in sea swimming was because as I grew up, I got tired of the same chlorinated box of water. I quickly realized there's much more to swimming than following a black line at the bottom of a pool! There is something about the ocean that is so majestic and everlasting. I have met countless pool swimmers who go from fearful of the ocean, to playful with the ocean. If you can do the distance in the pool then I am confident you can do it on this trip. The salty Aegean sea increases buoyancy and the clear blue visibility will pleasantly surprise your transition."

READ THE FULL BLOG


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62. Caoimhe Gowran (Crete, Greece)

"On our way to Loutro I found it hard to keep my mouth shut in awe of the scenery. Coming close to Agia Roumelli, which sits at the bottom of the Samaria Gorge, we passed beautiful sea stacks, caves and cliffs dotted along the edge of the deepest blue waters. I looked down on the map of our intended swim destinations, tick, it’s on the list! We continued East along the coast and I could see the week of swimming unfold before my eyes, ticking off the swims and getting ideas for new ones as we pottered along below the cliffs. I was so excited!"

"We took a left turn into the bay of Loutro. A semi circular pebbled bay, with stacked white buildings which looked tiny under the face of the mountain behind them. I hopped off my little boat and again with the help of the ferry men, the big heavy bags were passed out onto the port. Hotel Porto Loutro on the Hill, wherever I had to haul these bags to next I knew it was had to be up! I asked a man on the port if he could point me in the direction of Porto Loutro on the Hill. He smiled and asked if I owned all of the bags sitting at my side. He threw them into the back of his pick up truck and drove straight up the road, the only road in the village, about 50m behind the port. I had arrived."

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"Early to rise the following morning, to recce our first walk before the sun rose too high and too hot. We found the trail marked along the E4 path, East, in the direction of Sweetwater Beach. An easy hike just above the waters edge, we shared the path with gorgeous little mountain goats ringing their bells to wake up the sleepy village at sunrise. Sweet water beach was where we would begin our swim to Sfakia. The mountain water springs just beneath the pebbles gives the water a cooler, refreshing touch and slightly sweet taste, perfect after your hike. Just like the village of Loutro, this beach can only be reached by foot or by boat, so even though it is one of the most popular beaches in the Sfakia region, there are no crowds to spoil the tranquillity. Back to Loutro just on time for breakfast. On the terrace again after the sun had drawn itself up from the mountains to glimmer over the ocean for the day."

"On SwimTrek, us guides probably (definitely) get the most feedback on the subject of breakfast. 5 stars all round here! Fresh fruit pots, granola, meats, cheeses, omelettes, cereals and breads. A highlight for most guests with the early mornings, fresh coffee for all! We caught the ferry to Sfakia to meet the man himself, our boat captain, Damulis. Head of the dive centre and water taxi services in Sfakia, he made time for us to go over the swim plans, start times and boat logistics for the coming weeks. The schedule was set, making sure we were doing the right distances each day and having alternative routes depending on the weather and water conditions. Our little boats were to arrive in Loutro the next day and be moored up so we could give them a little test drive before the start of the trip."

"Coming close to Agia Roumelli, which sits at the bottom of the Samaria Gorge, we passed beautiful sea stacks, caves and cliffs dotted along the edge of the deepest blue waters..."

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"More swimming that evening to go over our SwimTrek on going training, it keeps us proficient with our lifeguard skills and it also allows new guides to learn how to work with one another, and another excuse for a dip! We choose a restaurant for the evening to make sure it was suitable for the first night’s group meal. Thumbs up for quick service, delicious food and sitting right out on the water, you couldn't go wrong in any of Loutro’s restaurants. Restaurant booked and the welcome letters out for the guests arriving the following day! We were up the following morning to beat the sun again for another recce walk, this time West to Marmara beach. More goats and pebbled beaches along this track, a little trickier to find our way on this one, that’s why we’ve got to recce! I will never be able to describe the caves in Marmara beach to what my eyes saw, no photos can do them justice. You will just have to go and look for yourself! It is my very favourite swim route on this trip. Just to float in the turquoise, sparkling blue waters that light up these fiery rusted rock caves above you, this is my highlight and what I have in my mind when I’m urging people to pay a visit. Back home, we put our navy collars on, ready to meet that first bunch of SwimTrekkers."

"These swimmers were about to be the Pioneers of the very first Crete Discovery SwimTrek trip. And they did a fantastic job!"

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READ THE FULL BLOG.


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63. Marlys Cappaert (River Canyons, Arizona)

"In 2017, SwimTrek introduced trips in River Canyons, Arizona, USA. This is the first weeklong SwimTrek holiday in the conterminous USA. I have been particularly excited to help SwimTrek develop trips in the USA. Though world travel is very rewarding and exciting, there are plenty of excellent swimming locations in the US. I also really like figuring out the details and logistics of a new trip. Most of the arrangements had already been figured out by HQ. Simon and co-guide Mark Johnston and I arrived a few days early to ensure we had covered every last detail and tested out the waters. The River Canyons trip takes place in three of the four large reservoirs formed by dams on the Salt River. The Salt River project was developed in the early 1900’s for water storage (consumption and agriculture) and hydroelectric power generation. This also serves as the watershed for Phoenix, AZ and is a popular recreation area."

arizona

"Swimming in the canyons is an ideal location for a swimming holiday. Fall in the Southwest gives us days as warm as mid-summer and the water is refreshing. Over the week we traversed nearly the extent of Saguaro, Canyon and Apache Lakes. Here the landscape is enticing and unique. The reservoirs are all within the boundaries of the Tonto National Forest, the countryside is spectacularly beautiful; it’s a desert peppered with majestic Saguaro cacti that seem as old and sturdy as the land they stand on. We had ample opportunities to see the diverse desert species: bald eagles, coatimundi, bighorn sheep, roadrunners, and swimming wild horses."

"During the week, we stayed at the Saguaro Ranch. John and Sean A’Lee were most excellent hosts. Every meal provided opportunities to sample local fare, and plenty of it. I thought rather than drone on with my obvious and slightly biased love of SwimTrek, I’d interview one of our guests. Sandy Mitchel, who is from Arizona, participated in the River Canyons last October, it was her first SwimTrek holiday….. and I dare to guess, not her last."

"Though world travel is very rewarding and exciting, there are plenty of excellent swimming locations in the US..."

arizona

"The swimming was unbelievably beautiful. I have raced in Saguaro Lake and Canyon Lake since 2009. But, I have never been back in the lakes where we went. I had no idea how gorgeous they were. At one point as we left the marina at Canyon Lake and were heading back into the canyon we stopped and looked up. I felt so insignificant as I looked up 2,500 ft to the top of the sheer cliffs. The colors of the cliffs were just stunning as the clouds moved over and they were in full sun and then shadow. The rich, vibrant colors of the rock were just breathtaking. We also saw a couple of blue herons and a couple of bald eagles. It was wonderful to be swimming along and our guide would call out to us to stop and look if they had spotted some wildlife. I would do this trip again in a flash. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I think the smile lasted on my face for weeks afterwards."

READ THE FULL BLOG


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64. Virginia Street (The Maldives)

"One wet, cold snowy day last February, I had a phone call from my pal, Lesley, who was so excited she could hardly speak - “look at SwimTrek’s trip page, quickly!” were my instructions. I duly did as I was told and was completely dumb struck when I saw the new Maldives trip being advertised. We had a brief phone call and decided that we definitely wanted to go and unlike other trips we have done, dates were sorted out very quickly and the booking was made. I don't think we could quite believe what we had done, but we kept looking at the photos and reading all the exciting things we would do other than swim and decided we had made a good decision."

"We flew to Male to meet the guides (how lucky were we to have Simon Murie as one of our guides- great to meet the man behind the logo!) and other SwimTrek guests - the real work was about to begin!"

"We were met by Saorla and Kammy (plenty more on him later!) and whisked away to join the MV Felicity, our home for the next week. I took my trainers off on the jetty and never put a pair of shoes on my feet for the whole of the rest of the week- utter bliss. We quickly met up with the other guests who arrived at varying times during the afternoon and once everyone had arrived we received the boat safety briefing and staff introduction. I was excepting a lot of unpronouncable names, but quickly became used to Eddy, Adam and bizarrely, Ebay- not sure where that one was bought from-Chef (very important man!), so it was not difficult. We were a total of 10 guests, 2 guides and 8 ship staff, so a ratio of 1:1. Not a bad sign!"

'One wet, cold snowy day last February, I had a phone call from my pal, Lesley, who was so excited she could hardly speak - “look at SwimTrek’s trip page, quickly!” were my instructions...'

maldives

"Acclimatisation swim complete, hats were distributed and a sumptuous meal followed. If that was a sign of the week ahead, then 10 km a day would keep the weight at bay! 5 stars would not be enough-a delectable meal which would become the norm over the week;we were going to be thoroughly spoiled, that much was apparent!"

"After an early night, we got up early for breakfast and our first swim. The sun was shining, the water was azure blue and breakfast smelt good! We are keen to get started so our first swim began along the Fuldihoo House Reef, a 3km swim along the reef. It was easy to navigate the reef swims as there was an obvious change in the environment below and in the colour of the water . We were delighted to see a huge variety of tropical fish who seemed totally unperturbed by the ten swimmers spoiling their home. The water was quite choppy, which initially surprised me as I was expecting it to be as calm as a mill pond for some reason! Absolutely not, and as the week progressed, conditions became more challenging and navigation more difficult. We were lucky to have the support of a dhonie (local fishing boat), a dingy and one of the staff in a kayak. This was invaluable if you were at the back of a group and losing touch a little- the bright orange t shirt was easily spotted in the distance. Also, Simon and Saorla didn’t need much encouragement to jump in and guide us on our way. After lunch, a snooze or read for some, we had a shorter 2 km swim, then after showers, a drink from the bar and some down time, another early night."

maldives

"The most challenging day was a 5km swim from Gira Fahu to Kegodhoo- this started with what looked like an easy 500m around a ship wreck before the swim proper. I can honestly say I have never felt so incapable in water in my life!! Caught in the current and I was going nowhere very fast. Amazing that moving less than a meter away, out of the current and you just sailed along! The first half of this swim was current assisted which was fantastic- enjoying the moment, we whizzed along, then turned to meet the chop head on! It was a tough part of the swim, but then the end was in sight so everyone’s spirits lifted as we made our way to the beach It was not to be!!! The current was so strong not even the ace swimmers in the fast group could make it, so we returned to the dhonie to find a different route in and one which clocked up 5 km on my watch.A sense of achievement for sure that day, so tired shoulders were happy to be offered a snorkel that afternoon. We enjoyed about an hour pootling about watching the sea life- amazing colours and all varieties you could imagine. Some of the group were lucky enough to see a ray just before they got back in the boat- how wonderful."

"The week continued in much the same vein and I never tired of seeing the white sand, turquoise water and fish life. Place names were a challenge for us - Kunavashi Long Reef, Villivaru House Reef, Fushidhiggaru Falhu, Gira Fahu, Anbarra... but all helped by the lovely Kammy who was the font of all knowledge. He spoke excellent English, had spent a year planning the spots for this trip and loved a joke too- usually at someone else’s expense. He was passionate about his country and was proud to tell us of its history and development. A charming young man and I thank him for stealing my camera on the last afternoon of snorkelling and taking some fabulous shots."

maldives

"For me, Swim Trek trips are about more than just the swimming- obviously that is the main reason I go-I have met some lovely people from different corners of the world, I have been lucky enough to visit a country I never thought I would go to, I have learnt a lot- who knew George Orwell got his inspiration for 1984 whilst he was overlooking the Corryvreckan whirlpool and then near drowned trying to cross it? I have been challenged in a way I have not been before, I have lived for a week on a boat in close confines with 8 total strangers and never heard a cross word spoken, I have been humbled by the local staff who looked after us with utmost care and I’m not quite sure how I will be able to beat this experience."

READ THE FULL BLOG.


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65. Marco Piras (Maddalena Islands, Sardinia)

What do we talk about when we talk about Sardinia? The wild interior, pristine beaches and sheep-crowded coastal roads. It's here that you'll find the beaches of paradise, like the celebrity-frequented bays of Costa Smeralda, or the emerald waters where scallops are found in abundance. The granite islands have a less tamed side as well and swims will uncover dunes, coves and stunning crags. Adventures abound in all directions and you're never short for spots to leap in and cool off.

For SwimTrek, our hearts are set on the islands of northern Sardinia in the sunlit Maddalena archipelago. For many years, our pilot, Marco Piras, took swimmers to explore this region and discover the many natural bounties it has to offer. A native of Maddalena, Marco, has lived on the island his whole life. His family were seafaring fisherman for generations. As a child, he used to go out with his father whenever he wasn’t at school and learn his most visceral lessons from the raw forces of nature.

After several seasons with us, we asked Marco what it was like to be a pilot in Sardinia and exactly what it was he enjoyed most about escorting SwimTrek trips - “I’m impressed by the energy and enthusiasm that all the swimmers possess," he said, "They show that anything is possible and I love being involved with that.”

No one knows the local islands like Marco - everyday he seeks out new secrets and has ensured each past SwimTrek was unique, overflowing with new and exciting swim routes, which are often freshly pioneered for the first time.

'I’m impressed by the energy and enthusiasm that all the swimmers possess...'

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When asked about his favourite place on the islands, Marco replied - “It’s a tricky one and I have to come up with two locations. The first is the inland sea between the 3 islands of Budelli, Razzoli & Santa Maria. Even if the weather is rough outside this lagoon offers a sheltered place to swim. The 2nd is the island of Caprera and its dramatic southern coast. The rock formations here are superb and it’s a great place for coastal swimming and mooring up for lunch...”


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66. Jo Whiley (Latitude Festival, UK)

Another year has passed since our last, slightly Covid-shackled, appearance at the annual Latitude Festival. We were down at Henham Park lake again for more morning sessions between the bleary-eyed hours of 7-10am. This time, we were eager to treat more early risers than ever to our adventure swims in the unrestricted fresh waters. We tracked 2km laps along the reed-lined lakeside and freshened up as Lewis Capaldi (and others) warmed their vocals on the main stage.

'The highlight for me of the weekend. Our early morning swims. Not easy after dancing till 3am but we did it...'

Every swim was unique. Jumping fish broached and flopped sidelong onto the sunlit surface. Damselflies flitted among the water lilies. Birds patrolled the clear skies overhead. While our seasoned guides, Simon and Nikki, were always on hand to offer paddleboard support, or technique advice to the various swimmers. One of Simon’s swim tips was to imagine cupping the water like you do when you scoop it to take a drink. The idea being that you shouldn’t let any trickle between your fingers. If you keep a closed hand you’re able to turn your hands into effective scoops and thereby gain greater momentum in the catch.

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On our second day, Radio presenter and TV personality, Jo Whiley, also returned to join us for the second year running. She took the plunge with eight guests and brought her family in for some freshwater fun in the sun.

“Flashback to last week’s [Latitude Festival],” Jo wrote on her Instagram, “The highlight for me of the weekend. Our early morning swims. Not easy after dancing till 3am but we did it!!! Thanks to SwimTrek for the swim drills and encouragement - it was such a beautiful and important part of our Latitude experience. See also hard photographic evidence that swim hats suit NO Person ever born.”

jo

It was great to have you along, Jo! And, for the record, we think you all pulled off the dreaded swim cap look.


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67. Karen De Jongh (Lake Washington, Seattle)

“I understand that not everyone likes to or wants to eat salmon, but if you are a long-distance open water swimmer you would love the Fat Salmon swim event. This annual event, organized by the Seattle Orca Swim Team, was held for the 22nd time on July 16th, 2022. It is a 3.2-mile lake swim on the shoreline of Lake Washington from the Interstate-90 bridge to Madison Park Beach in Seattle – swimmers have 2 hours to complete the distance.”

“The 2022 event was my second time the doing the actual Fat Salmon event, my first one being in 2019. However, in 2021 I joined a small group of friends to swim the course so I have actually swum this stretch of Lake Washington three times (the event was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to Covid restrictions). As someone who had never swum more than 2.4 miles, making the leap to 3.2 miles was challenging, but I must say it gets easier each time. Most of the swim parallels the shore line, so I had a good sense of making progress as I passed trees, houses and docks.”

“About two thirds of the way through the swim there is a stretch of about 1000 yards where you swim across a bay. The shore was quite a long way away and I felt like I was not moving forward. I was starting to feel tired because I’d already swum a long way, but kept telling myself to be patient, keep my head down and keep swimming, and eventually I made it across that bay and into the home stretch. The small tailwind we had this year definitely helped mentally.”

karen

“A nice surprise at the start was running into a fellow SwimTrekker who I met on the Baja SwimTrek in December 2021 – he had flown in from Texas specifically to swim Fat Salmon! The refreshments at the end of the race were excellent, with a broad selection including piles of homemade cookies and hot coffee. The top three female and male finishers each received a salmon, the top three finishers in each age group received aluminum water bottles with the Fat Salmon logo, and the raffle prizes included two vouchers for credit towards future SwimTreks.”

‘A nice surprise at the start was running into a fellow SwimTrekker who I met on the Baja Swim Trek in December 2021…’

“It struck me how many volunteers and spectators were present to support and cheer on the swimmers throughout the event. There were volunteer kayakers, paddle boarders, motor boats, and people putting gear bags onto a truck at the start for shuttling back to the finish line, helping us as we got out of the water, serving food, and helping out in other ways. So many people are needed to make a successful event such as this, and I appreciate each and every one of them.”

karen

“Another thing I really like about Fat Salmon is the sense of friendship and camaraderie it evokes. It was lovely to catch up with old friends from the swimming community that I hadn’t seen in a while, and to meet new ones. Since it is a point to point swim it requires a car ride from the pre-race area at Madison Beach to the start underneath Interstate 90. It was so nice to see people offering up space in their car to give swimmers they didn’t know a ride to the start line. There were also many spectators cheering and offering support, and a buzz at the beginning as everyone was chatting and getting ready. The way people lingered in the finish area for a long time after the swim ended made it clear it was much more than a swim but a community event. I’ll definitely be back to do it again next year!”


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68. Emma Richards (River Thames, UK)

“Staycation. The word on everyone’s lips since coming out of lockdown. An opportunity to reconnect with the wonders of the world on our own doorstep and rediscover life’s simple pleasures. And outdoor swimming, whether at sunrise or sunset, is a chance to find the extraordinary in the ordinary and see the world through fresh eyes and a hopeful heart."

"In these febrile times it’s about embracing mystery rather than predictability. None of us really knows what the future looks like. Re-reading Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, I still dream of the journeys I want to make, the oceans I want to swim (the Aegean) and the places I want to see (Ithaca). But I don’t know when – or even if - I will ever get there. How many of us know what we want and where we are going? Where we will end up? In this brave new world, it feels impossible to predict."

emma

"When our lives are in flux, the rivers and oceans continue to be here for us. Life on the river continues regardless of lockdown rules and regulations. The moorhens busily ferry reeds and build their floating castles. The bees hum on scented wildflowers. And in the open water, out of hours, the absence of human activity is a blessing. And with less noise and space in the sky, we can finally hear the birds sing. Our skies are an expansive and bottomless blue. And the wildlife that was once hidden on our doorstep, becomes gloriously visible, as if for the very first time, in magnificent technicolour."

"Sunrise is a precious experience. One which is worth getting up at insane o’ clock (4.30am) for. You will never regret it. You feel subversive. Bold. You become your own hero. Because an early morning swim will make you feel like you are crossing a boundary into another world. And the experience is starkly beautiful. There’s a thrilling in your veins which leaves you with tingling skin, a new-found optimism and a clear mind. You are fizzing with excitement for the rest of the day. There is simply no better way to wake up (add in a hot flask of coffee for good measure)..."

emma

"Swimming at different times of day also has its own rewards. At dawn is the painterly, Turner-esque light. What a privilege to see, untouched. Vapour rising off the mercurial river steeps her with a potent sense of power. And whilst the water is bracing, unlike the depths of January, it’s not brutal or fast. You witness a gentler, more benign nature. One where the sunrise is heralded by hopeful expectation. And as a cockerel crows, the light which reflects off bare skin reminds me of warmer, foreign shores. A distant memory of being woken up too early, years ago, on a Greek island. Today, these quiet morning dips have changed the colour and texture of my life. Giving me the strength to face whatever the day throws at me, head on."

"If sunrise swimming is like travelling into a new sphere, then sunset swimming is like peeking over the edge of the world. One where you notice nature’s colours against the sound of lapping water. The lush, jungle green of the reeds. The magic, midnight blue of the water, gleaming and awash with precious metals. The lights glinting off the houseboats. Garrick’s Temple (built by Shakespearean actor David Garrick) now floodlit on the sloping lawn. No wonder the romantic poets - Byron, Keats, Coleridge - loved to swim in open water..."

‘When our lives are in flux, the rivers and oceans continue to be here for us…’

"Late evening, you also get to know residents, both in and out of the water. You learn fun facts about wildlife from the wise river folk. On Taggs island, Peter enthuses about his favourite Egyptian Geese. Who knew their namesake is due to their exotic orange eye patches, which are reminiscent of the ancient Pharaohs? Wow. And on our return route, we are flanked by a battalion of over twenty Canada Geese. A shrill reminder that we humans are a humble part of nature - not outside of it. When the swallows skim the cooler water and the sun is sinking, I feel the weight of my tired limbs. Sunset swims are all about the slackening of jaw and of pace. It is all I need to hit the pillow and sleep soundly."

READ THE FULL BLOG


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69. Nicky Chapman (Balearic Islands, Spain)

"I’m lucky enough to have two of the best jobs in the world, SwimTrek guide and midwife. Yes, you’ve all seen us on those 1950s bikes on the telly on a Sunday evening. As a mode of transport, I prefer the nippy little RIB I had on Mallorcan Escapes in September but hey you can’t always be living the dream. Already an annual SwimTrekker and general swimming nut, my guiding career started in 2017 when I was at a junction in my career as a community and specialist midwife. I wanted to be less tied to an available 24/7 job, with 12-hour shifts dictated by service needs. So, I left my substantive role to work ‘bank’, meaning I fill in other midwives’ absences. I still do pretty much identical work, caring for pregnant women in the community and for them and their babies after delivery. I also counsel mums who have had a caesarean section about their birth options for next time, and I now have the added bonus of control as to when I work in the NHS."

"As a slightly unusual career switch, some additional qualifications to my midwifery and microbiology degrees were needed, so enrolment on a beach lifeguarding course came next and I found myself training alongside a group of my kid’s contemporaries. Anyone who’s done this course will tell you it is a full-on week but loads of fun. Whilst the youngsters had the edge on me for board skills and pool speed, years of Brighton sea swimming experience stood me in good stead for open water skills in a rough cold April sea and CPR skills are must for every midwife. My swimming guiding CV needed to grow even more with courses in power boating, food handling, VHF radio use and first aid courses which shows what a unique set of skills our guides need."

nicky

"So now I have a fabulous work/life balance which allows me to go to wonderful locations and share my love of swimming with fantastically interesting and diverse guests and hopefully, be a part of making their SwimTrek holidays memorable. I love the positivity and can-do attitude of the SwimTrek team and the awesome guides I have the chance to work with. There are more similarities between the two jobs than you’d think, as they’re both fundamentally about interacting with and looking after others where safety is of paramount importance. However, my family never accuses me of ‘just having been on holiday’ after a couple weeks of midwifing… but I love both my jobs and think they complement each other rather well. How lucky am I?"

‘I love both my jobs and think they complement each other rather well. How lucky am I?’


angela

70. Angela M (Kornati Islands, Croatia)

"I started 'real' swimming at the age of 12 after being an underwater fish in my younger years. After years of summer swim club and high school swim team, I tossed my goggles aside and did not swim for over 10 years. I dipped my toes back in with corporate challenge races and then got interested in triathlon. When I moved to Dallas in 2008, I joined the Dallas Aquatic Masters and had the chance to participate in a team trip to Hawaii for the Maui Channel Relay. There I met Eney Jones (a top Masters open water swimmer and former professional triathlete) who told me about SwimTrek. I had recruited several DAM swimmers to go on the Greece trip, my first SwimTrek, before we even made it home from Maui!"

"[I love] the fact that there are other people from all parts of the world who just want to swim in the deep blue! I've made friends from a number of countries and we keep in touch through social media and plan to meet on future travels. The guides are all so lovely and whip up great snacks and lunches which makes the days even better. I am also a runner and have enjoyed some interesting morning runs before the boat departs for the daily swims."

angela

"[My favourite SwimTrek trip is...] Kornati Islands! I have racked my brain to figure out why this one stands out as the others have been equally amazing..." (Angela has prevously swum in Greece, Sardinia, the BVI and Montenegro) "There was just something about the water. It was slightly less salty, completely flat except for one day and every time you took a breath, all you could see was water and 1,000 tiny islands dotting the surface. The water clarity was really amazing and the temperatures were quite perfect, chilly to jump in but amazing for the swim duration. I also loved that I could manage a decent long run from the hotel to the little town and up into the national park area. It was one of those amazing reset weeks that I doubt I will ever be able to duplicate."

angela

‘There was just something about the water. It was slightly less salty, completely flat except for one day and every time you took a breath, all you could see was water and 1,000 tiny islands dotting the surface.’

READ THE FULL BLOG


Clancy

71. Clancy Murie (Hellespont, Turkey)

The World’s Oldest Swim Welcomes its Youngest Swimmer!

The World’s oldest swim, The Hellespont in Turkey, has welcomed its youngest ever swimmer to cross it. Clancy Murie from Brighton, successfully completed the 6 km crossing from the continent of Europe to Asia on the 30th August, which was Turkish Victory Day.

The Hellespont (also known as the Dardanelles) is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and was also famous during World War I, when the Allies tried to break through this strait on their way to Istanbul. Their failure to take this seaway led to the unsuccessful Gallipoli Campaign which is where the Hellespont crossing starts.

Clancy

The Hellespont, is the legendary stretch of water which divides Europe from Asia in Turkey. It was made famous in Greek Mythology by Leander who would swim nightly across it to his lover Hero. The acclaimed poet, Lord Byron, was the first known person to swim across it in 1810. Byron later said of his swim, “I plume myself on this achievement more than I could possibly do on any kind of glory, political, poetical, or rhetorical.”

According to legend, Hero was a priestess of Aphrodite living in a castle at Sestos, on the European side of the strait. Leander lived on the Asian side at Abydos and, guided by Hero’s torch, would swim over to her. One night in a storm, Hero’s light blew out and Leander lost his way and was drowned. His body washed up below Hero’s castle and on seeing him there, Hero threw herself off the castle walls and died alongside him. Lord Byron, who was born with a club foot and was an accomplished open water swimmer, together with Lieutenant Eckenhead of the British Navy successfully crossed it on the 3rd May 1810.

Clancy

Clancy was raising funds for Surfers against Sewage, the British marine conservation charity, which works to protect our beaches and oceans from pollution.

‘It was a tough swim, but I did it...’

Clancy took 1 hour 22 minutes to complete the crossing from Eceabat on the European side to Çanakkale on the Asian side, in somewhat challenging conditions. The swim took place on Turkish Victory Day which is a public holiday in Turkey.

On completing his crossing, Clancy said “It was a tough swim, but I did it. Maybe next time I’ll just catch the ferry.”


Val Greenwood

72. Val Greenwood (Outer Hebrides, Scotland)

"Having done the Inner Hebrides trip in 2011 the lure of the Outer Hebrides was irresistible. Staying on a boat, a brigantine in full sail, swimming from island to island, north to south. I had to do it."

"A skins swimmer for three years I was a little nervous as recent summer swimming had been in lakes and seas of around 20 degrees. I decided to dust off my wetsuit just in case and also take lots of warm stuff, big down jacket, dry robe and tons of warm clothes, huge spare towels, enough for three months in the Arctic. Cabin space for storage was somewhat tight!"

"We met our leaders Pete and Tim and were introduced to the pilot Ernst, the boat owners Stefan and Jules, also the chef, and Sarah the ship's mate. On the first evening we discussed our expectations for the week and, after a short swim round Kisimul Castle in Castlebay, were divided into two groups, fast and not so fast. Water temperatures were around 12 to 13 degrees."

Val Greenwood

"Each day before our swims Pete and Tim would come up with a plan based on theirs and Ernst's study of tides, winds and sea conditions and put it to us. Hence, on day one we sailed south and did our first crossing from Berneray to Mingulay and from Mingulay to Pabbay with a bit of a walk on Mingulay. Stunning!"

‘I decided to dust off my wetsuit just in case and also take lots of warm stuff, big down jacket, dry robe and tons of warm clothes, huge spare towels, enough for three months in the Arctic...’

"Conditions always make a set itinerary impossible to follow exactly. We did several more crossings, one that got particularly choppy at the end when I and others were hauled unglamorously into a rib like beached whales but also a number of coastal and loch swims. Possibly my favourite was cruising around Lochboisdale, spotting starfish and seals, marine life, fish and (harmless) jellyfish. Jaunts onto the islands made us feel like intrepid explorers as we saw not a living human but many a sea bird, more seals, golden and sea eagles."

Val Greenwood

"Was I disappointed not to do all the crossings? Not a bit! The pleasure was in the wonderful medley of swims we had and the feel we got from this beautiful part of the country."

"Swimming apart we were incredibly well treated by all involved and the group gelled well, swimmers and crew, like one big week-long family. Sarah recognised every swimmer's towel and had it to hand, warm and dry, after each swim. Jules kept us all fed and watered well beyond the call of duty: snacks abounded between very tasty and plentiful meals, nothing was ever too much trouble, coffee and tea were on drip feed and the first alcoholic drink of the evening was included. All of this made staying on the beautiful Lady of Avenel a hugely memorable experience."

"And I did it all sans wetsuit!"


Jane Frechette

73. Jane Frechette (Durdle Door, England)

Join Jane as she accumulates memorable swim trips and coveted SwimTrek bobble hats!

January – New Year’s Resolution - learn front crawl: Husband Paul joined me. As I was already a fell runner and cyclist decided, along with two friends, to have a go at a sprint triathlon. After training during the summer.

September – Skipton Late Summer Tri: Discussion followed re future tri’s but what if the swim wasn’t in a pool?

January - Filled with enthusiasm I Googled ‘Open water swimming holidays’: Result... SwimTrek! Booked 2 places (Paul & I) on ‘Intro to Open Water in Mallorca

DuringFurther sprint tri’s but all pool based swims

MaySalford Quays for open water inductions with USwim and the Helly Hansen Centre.

‘Filled with enthusiasm I Googled ‘Open water swimming holidays’. Result... SwimTrek!’

Jane Frechette

July – Rod & John guided, instructed and exhausted us through our Intro: Came home with my video. How could my technique be so bad? Addiction had set in and when an email came from SwimTrek re an inaugural Cornish holiday based around places I remembered as a child, so booked Paul & I on it.

September – Cornwall with guides Pete & Tim, plus Simon: What a great holiday. A flexible group who were happy to swim wherever Pete and Tim chose depending on tides and weather. And yes there were beaches that hadn’t changed since I’d first visited them.

February – Barely in to New Year and where are we booking?: Due to circumstances, Mallorca revisited plus I noticed Durdle Door, Jurassic Coast, so booked that as well! Also booked three lake swims in June, July and August.

June – Another Intro but this time with Marlys and John: We knew what to expect and weren’t disappointed. I came home with an improved video but noticed Burgh Island on SwimTrek website. Paul would be mountain biking in Scotland... I booked a place!

Jane Frechette

July – Headed to Burgh Island: On a beautiful summer's day, 10 of us swam around Burgh Island guided by Sian. A lot of supporters joined us on the beach and made it a very sociable event. Added bonus of coming away with a SwimTrek bobble hat.

August – Durdle Door: 20 of us met Kate and Telle at 8am at Lulworth Cove for our briefing before our swim to and through Durdle Door. Met swimmers from previous trips, others who swim at Salford Quays and came away with yet another bobble hat!

And what happened to the sprint tri with an open water swim? No time as I’m too busy swimming! Thanks to SwimTrek and to all the swimmers we’ve met on our holidays who helped make them so enjoyable. Where to next?


Catch up on all our worldwide fun so far!

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  • Around The World In 80 Swims (Part One) READ NOW
  • Around The World In 80 Swims (Part Two) READ NOW
  • Around The World In 80 Swims (Part Three) READ NOW

New entries every Thursday!

Have you own aquatic tale to share? Please don't hesitate to email us directly at marketing@swimtrek.com. Also, you can tag us @SwimTrek on your social channels, or use the hashtag: #80swims

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