During the pandemic, when Miriam Letko couldn’t swim because pools were closed, the swimmer of her life built a pool at her home in Willis, Texas. Once travel restrictions lifted in 2021, I signed up for a week-long trip to Hawaii with her swimminga Maine-based tour company that specializes in open water swimming.
“Open water swimming becomes a source of vitality,” said Ms. Litko, 64, who has taken 12 trips with the company. She said the tours allow her to let her stress out “quite literally in the ocean”.
Summer vacations are often built around the pleasures of tossing in a lake or splashing in the ocean. In turn, these tours build excursions around organized swims that may include snorkeling among sea lions in the Galapagos Islands, swimming from island to island in the Adriatic Sea, or ziplining over coral reefs in the Caribbean.
The next yacht is available, departing September 2024 ($6,995 for one week), said Huber McDonough, founder and partner at SwimVacation, which bases most of its yachting trips in places like Turkey.
“After the pandemic, we sold everything we had two years ago,” he said.
Whether the participants are seeking transformation, pursuing a frustrated passion or Revenge travelSwim tour operators say they are seeing an ebb and flow of growth.
England based company Swim Trekfounded in 2003, links the explosion to the outward movement driven by the pandemic.
Nearly a third of SwimTrek’s customers—and growing—are from the US, as the company has added vacations in Hawaii and Oregon (Five Days in Oregon) Cascade Lakes $2,600) plus trips to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
“When you’re swimming in open water, every experience is different, whether it’s the state of the sea, the tides or the wildlife,” said Simon Morey, founder of SwimTrek. “This is the beauty, the unpredictability.”
Strel swimming adventuresFounded by Martin Strel, the marathon swimmer who holds the Guinness World Record for the 5,268km swim, his son Borut has met New Mexican destinations, including the Sea of Cortez (seven-day trips in October and November from $1,990). The company also offers tours in Greece, Slovenia and Turkey.
Active England, an English adventure company, has seen “exponential” growth in swim trips since travel resumed, according to Will Cairns, the company’s founder. Her trips include four days in Devon from June to September for £759 (about $984), with a swim in the sea, estuary and, after a two-mile walk in Dartmoor National Park, a natural pool in the River Dart.
“We have what I call ‘advanced swimmers’ who measure swimming in kilometres,” said Mr. Cairns. “But the majority of people do it for the love of water.”
Wild swimming for everyone
Most tour operators divide swimmers into subgroups based on speed and claim to take everyone from former Olympians to occasional divers interested in swimming 2-5km a day (open water swimming is usually expressed in metric terms).
Not all new swim rides are basic. Bluetits Chill Bathersa group dedicated to wild swimming – a term popular in Britain for swimming in natural bodies of water – recently partnered with a travel company to offer swimming excursions to places such as Icelandwhere a five-day package includes dips in hot springs, the sea, and cleavage at the fault between tectonic plates (the £2,265 autumn trip sold out shortly after it was announced this spring).
“Swimming with a group of like-minded people who don’t want to swim a marathon is a wonderful, exhilarating occasion,” said Sian Richardson, founder of the group, which celebrates participation rather than competition and now has more than 120,000 members. in Local groups From Copenhagen to the Great Lakes.
Much better adventures Wild Swimming offers on its multi-sport tours, which also include hiking and biking at places like Canadian Rocky Mountains (10 days from $2,103), the Canary Islands (six days from $1,166) and Dominica (Nine days from $2,375).
“We don’t think all wild swimming should be about speed, floats, or luxury neoprene,” Sam Bruce, co-founder of Much Better Adventures, wrote in an email. “Instead, just being in the water in a wild place is enough.”
Whatever the difficulty level of the tour, safety is a selling point. Most operators send out boats to accompany swimmers out in the open water and choose their positions to avoid dangerous currents, high winds, and boat traffic. Excursions also go to places where it is difficult to swim alone.
“Someone else did the planning for you,” said Kate Rio, founder. Outdoor Swimming Association, a British volunteer group that promotes outdoor swimming, has traveled with SwimTrek. If you’re running a few kilometers in new places, she said, “you need a lot of local knowledge and contacts.”
And there is at least one side benefit. “People sleep really well,” said Mr Cairns of Active England. “Two to three swims a day is exhausting.”
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