A few months ago (as panic began to set in) I persuaded Alice that we ought to dedicate a week to full on swimming training. A week with Strel Swimming Adventures in Croatia seemed like a pretty appealing option, but it surpassed our expectations in every aspect!
It was quite possibly the best holiday we have ever had!
The organization, the location, the scenery, the water and the food were all fantastic. Borut had thought of everything, from the vibrant swimming hats and comfy T-shirts, to the pre-swim Vaseline sessions and delicious tea-breaks… dried fruit, nuts and chocolate are just what you want when you are coming out of the water feeling a little chilly!
Hotel Spongolia on the Island of Krapanj was the perfect base, with very few tourists, but absolutely everything you needed, including (most importantly) a gelateria and a local bar/restaurant serving the best Seabass I have ever had!!
Even the water bottles came with motivational messages…
It was amazing how much we were able to fit into our days, without ever feeling rushed or having to worry about organizing anything… the guides had phenomenal knowledge of the area and plans were always flexible to allow for changes in weather, tide and the energy levels of the group, which meant even on the day when conditions weren’t optimal we still had a fantastic swim.
Every day included at least one new Island to explore on foot, two new swims – always with plenty of training tips and stories thrown in. It really was the ultimate adventure where each day was new and exciting, but everything seemed to fall effortlessly into place 🙂 It was just what we needed: a proper workout for our bodies and a complete break for our minds!
We racked up quite a few firsts:
- Island to Island crossing (3km)
The Islands we swam between
- Island circumnavigation (3.5km around the Island of Krapanj)
- River Swim (2.5km)
- Tunnel Swim – to see Hitler’s submarine hideaway
- Waterfall swim – at the Krka National Park
- Blue Lagoon swim at Kornati National Park
Borut even filmed us underwater and gave an analysis of our swimming technique, which was really useful (I had no idea I was actually only using half my arm power!
More than anything it was the people who made the trip so special! Clearly a ‘swimming adventure holiday’ attracts an eccentric crowd – we had an artist, a playwright, journalists, a sports engineer and an Egyptologist amongst our group.
Everyone had a story to tell and they were all pretty inspiring! The local spirits made from herbs and walnuts certainly helped us learn more about the quieter members of the group on our night out in Sibenik. I’m not much of a drinker, but no trip to Croatia would be complete without sampling Grahovac and Pelinkovac!
We were also joined by Tori Gorman – the 22nd Australian woman ever to swim the English Channel and swimming with her was completely unreal! (especially as we couldn’t begin to keep up, even when we were wearing flippers…) She radiated passion, enthusiasm and boundless energy – a total inspiration and so generous with her advice and encouragement! We just hope some of her positivity and drive rubbed off on us!
Underwater with Tori
You can really tell that Strel Swimming is a family run business… Borut Strel, founded the business a few years ago, having spent years supporting his father on his record breaking swims around the world. Amazingly it has grown organically from just 4 swimmers in Croatia four years ago to over 140 this year. Over 50% of customers return within 2 years and it is easy to understand why – Alice and I can’t wait for our next Strel Swimming Adventure – we just can’t decide whether we should do Slovenia or Lake Powell, Arizona first!
We are so grateful to everyone at Strel Swimming for making this adventure possible and for all the help, advice and encouragement for our Windermere Swim – we are now more excited and determined than ever! Here is a video Borut made with us at the end of the trip… As you can imagine – we can’t recommend them highly enough!