I have just returned from the most amazing week long, swimming holiday in the Aeolian Islands, an archipelago off Sicily, Italy. Each of these islands is home to an active volcano, which intensifies the experience for me. Sleeping at the base of an active volcano as we did on Vulcano, regularly inhaling the sulfur and waking to the steam rising from the top of it, reinforced the raw power of nature. I found it simply exhilarating.

The colour of the water we swam in vacillated between deep blue azure and a light aqua marine, depending on the location, was just divine! We swam along coastlines, past little townships, observing the rock formations and caves as well as the marine life, and unfortunately, dodging the jellyfish!

The swims ranged from 2.5km– 5km in distance and we complete about 7km each day. It was so satisfying to swim from one point to another, which for me, is very different to swimming laps in a pool, following the black line or swimming in ocean races. Both of which have made up the bulk of my swimming experience. My eyes have been well and truly opened to the opportunities and beauty of open water swimming. I highly recommend it, with the right preparation and gear.

This particular swim was organized by Swimtrek , one of the original providers in these type of holidays. They organise a multitude of swims, largely in Europe and the UK, but also a couple in the US. I was impressed by their approach to safety, particularly their briefing and their general management and organisation of the 7 days. They are definitely professionals in this area. There are also other providers, such as Strel Swimming and Oceanswims to name a couple. I undertook a Strel Swimming adventure on Lake Powell in the US last year, and also had a brilliant time. These holidays are a great way to combine your love of swimming with exploring new parts of the world.

By Kari Baynes, Director of Different Strokes Swimming.