Kaş, Turkey was never on my wanderlust list mainly because I’ve never heard of Kaş. Swimming for a week in the deep turquoise blue, island-to-island, coast-to-coast, with soon to be friends wasn’t the usual way I traveled, it was different. When my boyfriend and I just started dating in 2014 he told me he was going to Kaş, Turkey to swim. We both are passionate about swimming given he was a collegiate swimmer, and my mermaid abilities came from triathlons. I already had other travel plans, but as the ocean has a way of changing the course SwimTrek had an opening and I changed my plans, and happy that I did.
The moment we landed in Dalaman Airport I was already giddy with the sights and sounds around me. It was a small bustling airport, the weather was hot, air dry, and there was a mass amount of people zipping in different ways. Once we met our driver to take us to Kaş, the landscape slowly transformed to a sandy countryside to sweeping cliffs with the most beautiful turquoise and emerald waters. Just staring at the water would send you beyond meditation – it was wondrous.
I didn’t know what to expect once we got settled, met our guides, and our soon to be close friends … and I didn’t know what to expect about swimming in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. I’ve done three Ironmans, many triathlons and only 4 of them have been in an ocean, but those were different - the shore is so close and you are surrounded by thousands of people. I knew I could swim 2.4 miles, but the Turkey Lycian Swim had us swimming twice per day (totaling about 5+ miles per day), sometimes channel crossings, including a 5k swim from Greece to Turkey. Um, I was a bit intimated.
The group that ended up being my pod, were in a simple word fun. I was a bit worried that these swims would be competitive, and I didn’t want that – I wanted this to be an exploration, and it was every stroke of that.
The moment I dove into the Mediterranean all my nerves, anxiety and intimidation just drifted away like the small water curls in the blue and turquoise waters. I’ve never seen water as beautiful as the Mediterranean; it was as if I was swimming in sparkling jewels. My eyes could see miles down, miles straight and everything in my view was a distraction from real life. The most amazing memory I have is that each day during each swim, you would see the sun beams shoot straight from the ocean floor to the sky – it was a stream of light that guided your way.
Part of this swim is swimming through history, swimming through ruins of the Lycian’s with a small hike on the Lycian Way. It was fascinating learning a bit of history through the lens of the open water, and it was every bit better than reading a history book.
The athletic highlight of this whole trip was the 5k swim from Greece to Turkey. First of all, I’ve never swam a 5k straight and our guides did a great job building us up to this point as this was day 3 or 4 of our trip. By this point, we all were comfortable in the water and could swim for miles now. The boat dropped us off at a rock in the middle of the sea, this rock was in Greece. We had to touch it, and then swim back to Turkey. The journey took us through those many sunbeams, some deep blue, and at the end we were greeted by sea turtles. What better way to end a 5k journey through the sea but by sea turtles! After touching the rocks in Turkey to make it an official crossing, our group played for what seemed like a hour looking for turtles and joking with our fellow merman about being 5k Ray. The energy of accomplishment, giddiness, happiness was infectious.
The evenings were spent exploring the local culture through dining on some amazing food, taking a Turkish Bath that left your skin anew, walking aimlessly through cobblestoned streets, eating gelato and most importantly making friends and creating memories.
Most mornings I would get up early to run before heading out to swim, and I loved being part of the town waking up for the day. Travel running has always been my way of exploring a new place, now swimming has become a way of exploring sites that can’t be reached by foot. I’ve been fortunate to travel to many place around the world, and swimming in Turkey with SwimTrek has been by far on the top of my list. SwimTrek is far more than a group of people who love to swim; SwimTrek combines travel, swimming, friendships, culture all together in one magical bottle. Adventures through SwimTrek take you off the off-beaten path, to remote places that you don’t read in a guidebook. It changed my way of travel, and now I am addicted.
Since then we’ve gone on the SwimTrek Greece Cyclades, will be in Croatia in 2016 reuniting with one of the couples we met during the Turkey Lycian Way Swim, and looking forward to planning more swimming adventures.