For a week I have been partially submerged having a quite unique and incredible time which explains the lack of literary outpourings. Did I have pre conceived ideas? Well yes, but being an Australian adding the adjectival description ‘open water’ ie in the sea, to the noun ‘swimming’ provoked more anxiety than exhilaration. So let me clarify out the beginning that there are NO sharks in the Ionan Sea let alone the Mediterranean Sea. At no stage did I have a sense that lurking 5 fathoms deep was a great white about to shoot up like a Polaris missile and devour me. Actually not true because on the 5 km swim between Islands, I was like Saint Thomas- of the doubting personality. If there was one minor disappointment, which I can’t blame on the Big Blue Swim it was rather a lack of wild life in the water. I commented to the crew who confirmed that the local waters are quite probably overfished.
The organisation was superb and the it was not just the fact that one has swum 25km in 5 day, not an onerous task for me as those in the know would know. We were all sent a suggested swimming programme starting several months before we arrived. This was to say the least, potentially off putting so much so the one could have been forgiven for assuming that we were all to be smothered in Vaseline and herded into the Sea for a swim between Greece and Africa with lunch at Crete. It was not to be although the Vaseline was on hand and I willingly offered my cracks and crevices.
So do not be dissuaded by the pre swim programme. Seriously we were joined by a delightful American as I described in an earlier blog with an unusual arthritic condition which has left him with elbow joints fused to 90 degrees of flexion and marked disuse atrophy of his upper limbs. Despite this he completed all legs of the week by breaststroke even the 5 km in the allotted time of 2.5 hours. An Olympian effort. His guide was Jax a delightful giggling English woman who was the most provocative and we were equal at thigh wrestling.
The sea was crystal clear and a constant 28 degrees. The only wildlife were the occasional orange coloured jelly fish. Given again my Australian perception that all sea creatures if they don’t eat you alive, have a poisonous sting that makes curare a mere flea bite, I did find myself constantly looking out for these monstrous marine creatures which through my goggles registered as the size of dinner plates but in reality were button sized.
So the Big Blue Swim is not just the swimming. Those of you who have enjoyed our European cycle holidays know that it is not all about the bike, although PJM would disagree as is his nature. Rather it is the whole day of breakfast, the ride, the scenery, the long lunches ( as long as one find a little local restaurant that is open and not closed for siesta) and the evening at our destination with the social intercourse. So it is with this Swim Adventure, it was the leisurely swims and they were leisurely, with the lunch each day at a delightful Island village and the local taverna. I am completely relaxed and have some would say a somewhat unhealthy tan! I feel smugly healthy. Alcohol has rarely passed my lips.
As I sit here at breakfast on our last morning together we are trying to create a swimming equivalent of the cycle peleton… Any suggestions? I can reassure Pamela that if she joins me next year for a swim around Crete I promise not to come up, unannounced on her inside leg.
Our leaders and guides were great fun yet professional, protective and at times provocative. Michael K was the chief and responsible for the pink team, of which I was a member of course and I get to keep my cap! Noah of the Ark fame a laconic tanned smooth skinned guide was responsible for herding the largest group, the orange people, who seemed to us to meander this way and that as though they were on recreational drugs.
The pink team was of course the A team. We were all straight as a die in our strokes. On our last day we swam part way round an island that was purchased by a wealthy Russian! If by chance one swam inside a line of red bouys that marked the no-go zone,there was the threat of attack as several vicious rottweilers wearing flippers and water-wings dog paddle towards us.
Our last night was at a taverna on the hillside above the bay with a typical Greek barbecue a memorable finish to the week
pics of our last evening taverna