The desert states of the American South West may seem an unlikely swim holiday destination, but as Jonathan Knott discovers, this could not be further from the truth.
Home to unreal shapes, wide-open vistas and world-famous landmarks, the desert states of the south-western United States are like nothing else on earth.
Spectacular though they undeniably are, the parched red-rockscenery of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado may not initially strike one as particularly promising swim destinations. But impressions can be misleading. With warm temperatures, a laid-back spirit, and phenomenal views, the area in fact boasts a healthy and growing open water swimming scene, with several established events, new guided tours, and a sound support structure for independent swimmers.
Renowned Slovenian long distance swimmer Martin Strel was captivated by the Arizona landscape when he visited on a speaking engagement in 2010. Two years later, he and his son Borut are now running swimming tours based in the state.
Lake Powell, which is shared between Arizona and Utah, and whose shoreline is longer than the entire US West Coast, was formed in the 1960s by a dam on the Colorado River that flooded the huge Glen Canyon. Even in mid-winter, the water temperature never gets below 8-9C, and stays above 20C between May and November - reaching a peak of about 27C in August. While the area is popular for many kinds of outdoor activity, swimming is arguably the most striking way to experience Lake Powell’s unforgettable juxtaposition of warm, shimmering water and dry, towering rock formations.
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. British writer Jonathan Knott was invited by Strel Swimming to attend and experience Lake Powell swimming tour in October 2012.