As an avid recreational swimmer, I was surprised but thrilled to find an exclusive outdoor “swim vacation” advertised.
Although I would have loved to travel to Europe, I decided to stay stateside and booked my trip to Lake Powell. In anticipation of my trip, I repeatedly watched the website videos, hoping that my experience would be even half as beautiful as pictured.
Of the many flight options available, I chose to fly to Flagstaff, rent a car, and then drive to Page. It proved to be an easy and scenic route. Page, AZ is a small but pleasant town and a terrific starting point for not just the swim vacation but many other National Parks and tourist attractions. The hotel, a Holiday Inn, was clean and comfortable.
We were met by Borut our first evening there. We all introduced ourselves to one another and then Borut gave us an overview of our trip and provided important safety information. Like with any group there was a diversity of personalities and some unique needs. Borut addressed them all and was as kind and accommodating as you could hope. This was a consistent theme throughout the trip and Borut’s persistent good nature assisted in assuring that everyone´s experience was both personal and special. Despite my initial concerns of being surrounded by single focused Olympic level swimmers, our group consisted of swimmers of all levels and expectations.
The next morning I knew that from the moment we drove out to the marina that the pictures I had viewed could not possibly capture the beauty of the lake or the feel of the sun and fresh air.
The sky was a cloudless azure blue that morning and for the entirety of our trip.
We boarded the houseboat which would also serve as our lunch and rest venue and got to know one another a little better on the leisurely ride to our docking site. This was my first opportunity to meet Martin Strel. “World´s Greatest Marathon Swimmer” would be the last thing I thought of upon meeting him. He is a humble, genuine man whose passion for life and extreme challenges glows like simmering energy. He patiently answered all of my questions regarding his Amazon adventure and shared many of his stories.
We took speed boats to get to each of our swim locations.
This gave us the opportunity to enjoy magnificent vistas in every direction and the added bonus of having Rusty, our outstanding boat captain offer history and highlights of the area while confidently guiding us to our destinations. Once we arrived at that session’s starting point, we were given a short briefing of that swim and the amount of time we would have in the water (average of 50 – 60 minutes). For all swims, the water was a clear and pleasant 74-76 degrees. By following the coastline there was little need for constant sighting which allowed us to simply relax, swim, and enjoy the views. The boats were ever present as was Bonnie – our new friend and paddleboard escort. Everyone was given the opportunity to swim at their own pace knowing that they could stop, rest, or play whenever they wanted.
At one time or another, Martin swam with each of us and it is with great pride that I can claim the same.
Each day we got the opportunity to explore somewhere different, but equally beautiful. That said, I think I can speak on behalf of the group by saying that the highlight of the trip was swimming Cathedral Canyon. We guided the boats through narrow slot canyons until we could go no further. The boats were then backed out allowing us to swim back through the narrow canyon walls with the alternating shadows of shade and ethereal glow of sunshine. It was amazing. We capped off the morning with a short hike to the Rainbow Bridge – the World’s largest known natural bridge which many Indians consider to be a sacred religious site.
Lunches back at the houseboat were prepared by Borut and Martin, and were simple and delicious. There was plenty of food to fuel our afternoon hike and additional swim. Borut was a patient and amiable host at all times, but there was no better example of his patience than after lunch one day when he repeatedly submerged himself to video each of the 12 of us swimming. He then gave each of us a fair and gentle critique of how to improve our swim stroke. As a bonus, each evening´s return was accompanied by the glow of the full harvest moon. This served as an exclamation point to an already perfect day.
If you love to swim open water or simply enjoy being around people who do, and if you want to experience one of the most beautiful places in the country then I would strongly recommend this Strel Lake Powell swim vacation. I have already started my plans for a return trip next year. I hope to see you there!
Written by Beth from Tampa, Florida (guest on October 2018 tour)
Video clip of Lake Powell Swim Vacation