Swimming holidays: Come on in, the water's lovely

Whether you fancy exploring blue lagoons or taking on river challenges, swimming holidays are guaranteed to make a splash, says Lucy Gillmore

What's the attraction?

The lure of the big blue – and the steely grey and choppy – is getting stronger. If "open water" sounds a bit daunting, don't worry; there are plenty of specialist companies willing to hold your hand as you dip a tentative toe in. Swimtrek (01273 739713; swimtrek.com) was launched 10 years ago by Channel swimmer and coach, Simon Murie. Then, the number of people booking a swimming holiday was in the hundreds. This year, Swimtrek expects to take around 4,000 swimmers on holidays ranging from a week-long island-hopping trip around the Sporades in Greece to shorter breaks in Mallorca and Slovenia.

Other companies offering swimming holidays include The Big Blue (0113 2169 434; thebig blueswim.com) for trips in Greece and Gone Swimming (01244 940 740; goneswimming.co.uk) if you fancy a "Wet Weekend" in Wales. And there are dozens of opportunities to take the plunge in more controlled environments too, with learn-to-swim and improvement holidays in pools around the world.

Sink or swim

Champneys (0843 316 2222; champneys.com) offers three- and five-day Art of Swimming – Learn to Swim breaks (020-8446 9442; artofswimming.com) using the Shaw Method, which is based on the Alexander Technique. The three-day break is available at Champneys Springs Health Resort in Leicestershire from 8 August and costs £530 per person, full board.

The Shaw Method is also taught in Wales by Swimming Without Stress (01239 613789; swimmingwithoutstress.co.uk). These residential tailor-made courses for beginners are based at Croft Farm and Brongwyn holiday cottages near Cardigan, each with heated indoor pools. Six 45-minute lessons cost £295; four nights' cottage accommodation from £306.

The Residence Mauritius has complimentary children's swimming lessons. Turquoise Holidays (01494 678400; turquoiseholidays.co.uk) offers a week's half-board from £4,099 for a family of four, with transfers and return flights from London. Closer to home, the Sani Resort in Halkidiki, Greece, has launched baby swimming lessons for guests aged six months to four years old for €15 (£12.70); doubles from €126 half board (0800 949 6809; www.saniresort.gr).

In hot water

In Iceland, they take their bathing so seriously that the word laugardagur means both Saturday and pool- or hot-springs day. The Blue Lagoon (00 354 420 8800; bluelagoon.com) is one of the country's most renowned attractions, where the mineral-rich water is a balmy 37–39C. Entrance costs from €33. Iceland also has numerous geothermally heated swimming pools, 13 around Reykjavik alone. The Laugardalslaug Geothermal Pool (00 354 411 5102; reykjavik.is) is the largest in the country with an Olympic-sized indoor pool as well as an outdoor pool, a whirlpool and a steam bath. Entrance costs IKr550 (£3.40). Swimminginiceland.com lists more hot springs and geothermal pools around the country.

Private party

Luxury swimming-holiday specialist, John Coningham-Rolls (020-8675 6608; coningham-rolls.com) offers tailor-made trips geared to groups of friends or triathlon participants, as well as set itineraries in the UK, Europe and Asia. A week aboard a traditional 1915 Norfolk Wherry yacht, for a small group of eight swimmers, costs £750 per person including full-board accommodation, skipper and a wild-swimming guide. The tour departs from Beccles in Suffolk on 10 and 17 August and ends in Norwich, with plenty of swimming in the Norfolk Broads in between.

A whale of a time

Thousands of beluga whales summer in the waters of the Hudson Bay and Churchill River in Canada each year before migrating north to the Arctic Ocean. Discover the World (01737 214250; discover-the-world.co.uk) offers the chance to jump into the water and snorkel with them. The five-night trip in July and August costs from £1,553 per person and includes return flights between Winnipeg and Churchill, transfers, five nights' accommodation, half-day tundra buggy tour, a tour of Churchill, a three-hour beluga whale-watching cruise and a two-hour beluga-watching zodiac cruise; international flights not included.

In Western Australia, you can swim with mighty – but harmless – whale sharks between March and July on the Ningaloo Reef. Exmouth-based Oceanwise (00 61 447 089 752; oceanwise.com.au) offers licensed day trips for A$390 (£260) including transfers, training, photos, lunch and equipment.

River wild

Slovenian Martin Strel, aka Big River Man, was the first man to swim the five great rivers of the world: the Amazon, Yangtze, Paraná, Mississippi and Danube. He has since set up Strel Swimming Adventures (07700 061236; strel-swimming.com) with his son, Borut. They run swimming holidays in Slovenia, Austria, Croatia, Montenegro and Lake Powell, Arizona. The four-day Slovenian Lakes and River trip takes you to the lush forests and glacial lakes of Triglav National Park to bathe in the Kozjak waterfall. Other highlights include plunging into the vivid green glacial River Soca, swimming out to a 17th-century church on Lake Bled, and the final challenge, swimming the length of Lake Bohinj. The trip costs €508 including B&B, local guide and transport, coaching sessions and equipment hire but not flights.

Wet and wild

At The Scarlet hotel (01637 861800; scarlethotel.co.uk) you can take a wild swimming tour of Cornwall's coast exploring caves, spotting seals, sun fish and even dolphins, with professional instructors, towels and hot toddies on stand-by. A two-night package costs from £515 per person, half board.

Camino Ways (020-3468 1516; caminoways.com) has a self-guided seven-day walk and swim trip, hiking along the west coast of Galicia and winding up at Finistère, believed to be the end of the world by the Romans. As you trek along the Costa da Morte (Coast of Death) you can veer off the path to head down to wild beaches and jump into the Atlantic breakers. The six-night trip costs from €539 per person half board, excluding flights.

Nicole Kidman swam in the remote waterfalls and natural pools of the El Questro Wilderness Park in Kimberley, Western Australia (00 61 3 9426 7550; elquestro.com.au) while filming Baz Luhrmann's Australia. Some of the cascades were only discovered in 2010 and to reach them you have to hike through ancient gorges or drop in via helicopter. Check-in to Emma Gorge tented cabins to explore El Questro's 1 million acres. Rooms start at £190 per night through Bridge & Wickers (020-3642 5938; bridgeandwickers.co.uk).

Swim Barbados Vacations (swimbarbadosvacations.com) is staging two open-water sea races on 6-7 July and 26-27 October. The swimming festival, featuring a 1.5km race and a 5km race, plus watersports, a beach barbecue and live music, is open to swimmers from across the world. Entry is US$18 (£12); closes 5 July.

Finally, the Outdoor Swimming Society (outdoorswimmingsociety.com) promotes wild swimming around Britain. For more information on joining a wild group swim visit: wildswim.com.

Insider information

"Swimming is so much more than plodding up and down the lane of your local pool. In open water, no two experiences are the same. My favourite swim is the Hellespont in Turkey which divides Europe from Asia and which Leander made famous in Greek mythology by swimming to his lover Hero every night. Lord Byron repeated the feat in 1810. This 4km swim starts at Gallipoli and finishes near the ancient city of Troy." – Simon Murie, founder of SwimTrek

Who said that?

''Me don't swim too tough so me don't go in the water too deep." – Bob Marley

"Swimming is normal for me. I'm relaxed. I'm comfortable and I know my surroundings. It's my home." – Michael Phelps

"I know some of my parents' friends think Little Britain is in incredibly poor taste. But swimming the Channel? You can't really say anything about that, can you?" – David Walliams

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Day In a Page

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor