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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
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

    Sales Manager - Commercial Cable & Wire - UK

    £60,000 - £75,000: Recruitment Genius: As a top tier supplier to the major Aer...

    ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Junior Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
    Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

    Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

    "I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
    Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

    11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

    Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
    Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

    Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

    The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
    Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

    The school that means business

    Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
    10 best tablets

    The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

    They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
    Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

    Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

    The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
    Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

    Pete Jenson's a Different League

    Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
    John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

    Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

    The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
    The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

    The killer instinct

    Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
    Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

    Clothing the gap

    A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

    The Fall of the Berlin Wall

    Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain