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Trip Gradings

All of SwimTrek’s trips include a swim grading level to help you choose just the right swimming experience to suit your interests and abilities.

We know that grading a swim can be hard. What might be easy for one person could be challenging for another. The difficulty level of a specific trip can also vary across the season, and conditions can quickly change while on a trip, turning a leisurely swim into a challenging one if the weather changes. This is one of the joys of open water swimming, but it does make consistent grading far more tricky!

The aim here is to give you an idea, generally, of how challenging the swims on our trips should be. It’s especially useful for helping you compare different trips and the type of swimming to expect. But always be prepared for conditions to change on your trip.

Our gradings are based on:

  • The average swim speed (pace) required to comfortably take part in the trip
  • The average swim distance covered in any single swimming session (usually two per day)
  • The average water temperature of the trip
  • The average swimming conditions experienced during the trip


Beginner icon Designed for people new to open water swimming. These trips are aimed at building confidence and developing open water swimming skills. There is usually some formal coaching, and the swims will be shorter and conditions calm, and in warm waters.


Leisurely icon Designed for people who want to swim at a more relaxed pace and enjoy the scenery. The swims are generally in warmer waters with shorter distances, and the trips often include non-swimming activities.


Moderate icon Most of our trips will fall in this category. The trips include a mix of swimming distances, conditions and water temperatures. Most swimmers comfortable in the open water will be able to take part and enjoy one of these trips.


Challenging icon A few of our trips offer challenging conditions, such as cold temperatures, longer swimming distances, potentially difficult swimming conditions, or a mix of all of these! These are for experienced open water swimmers who want to push themselves.


Not for the faint-hearted! These trips will push you to your physical and mental limits. Ideal for someone looking take on a personal challenge swim, such as the English Channel or the Catalina Channel.

Swimming Distances

Except for our Beginner graded trips swimmers should have a basic understanding of open water swimming and be capable of completing the average swim distance prior to the start of the trip. The average daily swim distance that is also stated for each trip is split over a minimum of two swims.


Please note that Water Temperatures given are indicative and should be used as a guide only. For a little more information please visit our Water Temperature and wetsuit guide

Swimming Conditions Caveat

For safety reasons, we rely on decent swimming conditions, e.g. weather and wind, when carrying out our swims. As a consequence, open water swimming holidays requires a certain degree of on-trip flexibility which can result in changes to the planned itinerary. These changes often add a touch of uniqueness to your trip and will be communicated to you by your SwimTrek guides as quickly as possible.