Every great adventure starts with a plan – and winter is the perfect time to do the dreaming. As they hang up empty calendars and unfold blank diaries, five swimmers start filling them with the most important things. The where and when of this years swimming…..
My big swimming goal for 2024 is to swim my final six lakes of the Lake District – four shorter ones to tick off first (Brothers Water, Rydal Water, Grasmere and Elter Water), then 4km of Wast Water beneath the towering Scafell Pike in the early summer (hopefully together with some of the OSS team). Then I will attempt to swim the full 18.5km of Windermere in early September. Yikes. More on the speculative wish list would be to swim between some of the UK’s beautiful offshore islands such as a loop of the Scilly Isles or hopping between the southern islands of the Outer Hebrides (Mingulay, Pabbay, Sandray, Vatersay, Barra and South Uist). While I’m in Scotland and feeling adventurous, wouldn’t it be amazing to fit in a supported swim of the Gulf of Corryvrecken? Well… it’s important to dream.
Nathan Willmott, OSS Legal Adviser
My watery wishlist for 2024 is to return to one of my favourite patches of river for some whitewater snorkelling. This stretch of river that I love has a whisky-tinted clarity that I love. The river is wide and slow and lovely for kids to paddle and play. And then all of a sudden it stiffens its resolve, speeds and narrows and rushes between narrow rocks. The first part of these rapids are tremendous fun to hurtle down in rubber dinghies or tractor tyres. But it is the final phases that I am eager to return to. The river compresses into a narrow canyon, just a couple of metres wide but many more deep. I love to snorkel down the river here, swooshing over the beautiful, eroded boulders. If you hold your breath you can dive down deep, and then cling on to a rock to hold you against the current. And there I hang, for as long as my breath lasts, nose to nose with nonchalant brown trout, as air bubbles fizz by amid the muffled sounds of the rushing water. I can think of no finer place to be.
Alastair Humphreys, OSS Ambassador. You can follow Al’s adventures on @al_humphreys.
Despite being injured a lot in 2023, I somehow achieved a base level of fitness that means that my swim plans are no longer backed up behind the groaning, exhausting sense that ‘I’ve got to get fit’ before I can go anywhere. Since I swam the Dart10k and Hurly Burly last autumn I feel up for it all without changing anything – even though my swimming is mostly two 30 minute pool sessions a week, plus some other stuff (depending on what rib, knee, shoulder or wrist can’t be operated at any given time). So the dreaming is on! There is no coherence, other than all the trips should all be fun. For newness I am planning to go to Finland for the Downhill Swim – a wild dark river in a remote National Park, with reindeer on the beaches; to do a small crossing with my younger son, and to swim two river routes I’ve been wondering about for years. After that I will be joining other members of the OSS team on their swims – a passenger not a planner for once! I’m looking forward to joining Nathan in Wast Water, Kari in her new long distance butterfly challenge (I’m on 35m at the moment, and we’re aiming for an open water 1600m), Beth swimming Old Harry’s Rocks and Katie snorkelling. We saw a congregation of spider crabs last year, imagine if this year we found an octopus?
My aspiration is to participate for the first time in the Capri Napoli Marathon, immersing myself in its challenging waters and reaching the finish line with determination and vigour. The Leme to Pontal traverse in Rio de Janeiro is also on my swim map for the year—a challenge I unsuccessfully attempted in 2021 and refuse to leave unfinished. Finally, 2024 marks the beginning of a new documentary detailing the swims of Antonio Abertondo and Pedro Candioti, who swam nearly 500 kilometres along the Paraná River, from Rosario to Buenos Aires, in over 90 hours of non-stop swimming. To narrate their story, I aim to live it myself, making my greatest desire to start planning and training for my own adventure from Rosario to Buenos Aires.
Lucas Rivet, open water swimmer and filmmaker, see his work here
As a snorkel instructor in Cornwall, I absolutely love taking people snorkelling and showing them the beauty of the underwater world but mostly I enjoy seeking out new snorkel sites – observing and photographing the diversity of coastal marine life. An amazing adventure I’d love to do in 2024 is snorkel all around the Isles of Scilly – a tropical archipelago off the southwestern tip of Cornwall, England, where nature thrives, and the coves are bursting with marine life. The Isles of Scilly sit in the gulf stream withstanding a warm temperate climate providing the perfect environment for passing marine visitors and sub-tropical plants. I have already spent time in the summer snorkelling on the Scillies with @adventurescilly, and I am always totally blown away by the diversity of the marine life there – from puffins to basking sharks, sunfish and even passing humpback whales! My hope is to snorkel as many of the islands as I can in 2024 whilst documenting my underwater travels.
Katie Maggs, follow Katie on @tonicofthesea