Swimming in Montenegro with SwinTrek

Day one, and if I look apprehensive, it's because I am.

Firstly, I'm the only one swimming in a wetsuit.

Secondly, my injured shoulder hasn't fully healed and swims over 1km hurt.

But mainly because I'm read the bios of the other swimmers on this SwimTrek.  Oh boy.

Most had been swimming competitively for well over twenty years; one was hand-picked at 5 for special development squad; another played serious-level water-polo for twenty years; oh yes, and one has swam the English Channel.  Twice.  Once doing butterfly stroke.

On our first SwimTrek, Liz was at the slow end of the lead group and I was at the top of the mid-group.  Most people wore wetsuits.  Here, we're also-rans.  Hence that face.

However, I need not have worried.  Out of the water there was no hierarchy and everyone got along like old friends, with lots of friendly banter and fun.  My self-appointed role was to take photos, and once the team saw they were reasonable shots, most happily complied.

On the water Coll and Eoin successfully managed the groups despite the vast speed differences.

Our first SwimTrek last year was OK, but not great.  There were too many coastal swims from random point a to random point B with no real journey or reason for the swim.  A holiday sold as being a series of crossings delivered just one crossing. But we asked around at the time and everyone said, "Go to Montenegro" - so we did.

We flew to Croatia (Dubrovnik) four days early and acclimatised in the warm water around the town of Cavtat.  There's lots of boat traffic, but the swimming around the headlands is safe, provided you don't stand on a sea-urchin.  Cavtat is better than crowded over-priced, tourist-trap, cruise-ship-hell of Dubrovnik, which can easily be visited by bus or regular taxi boat.  It gave me a chance to swim almost daily and get my shoulder working properly in the warm water.

The two-hour transfer to Perast in Montenegro was simple to arrange (€50 for 2) and took about 2 hours.  Perast is crowded, stuffed with restaurants and places to stay, but relatively small so it retains a nice vibe.  The Mirshe Palace - not a hotel but a lovely house where Grandma and Migi run everything - is a lovely place to stay.  The Bay of Kotor - find it on Google and you'll see how amazing it looks - is largely a UNESCO site.

The swims are utterly superb.  Each has a story behind it - a crossing, a circumnavigation - whatever.  They are varied and each is different.  We even took a 2 hour coach trip to Montenegros biggest lake for an island-crossing swim followed by a swim down a river.  With lilly-pads and the local equivalent of mangrove, it felt like Vietnam.  It featured heavily in a wee video I made for our group.

We had almost two days back in Cavtat at the end by which time my dodgy shoulder had improved so much I managed a 4.5km swim, something I couldn't have contemplated at the start.

The best thing for swimming is swimming.  We'll definitely go with SwimTrek again.  If you're contemplating such a holiday, Montenegro is highly recommended.

No comments: