Skyllias 2014 - Are you prepared for Skyllias 2015?
Article written by our friend Seamus Bennett, Open Water coach and swimming teacher - Founder of Felixstowe Swimscapes Outdoor Swimming
Last July I had one of the most memorable, challenging and unique swimming and travelling experiences of my life, courtesy of SwiminGreece. I was one of the first overseas swimmers to be given the privilege of taking part in the 15km North Evian Gulf Crossing, Skyllias 2014. This locally-organised, real Greek event follows the route of the legendary ancient Greek swimmer between the mainland and the beautiful port town of Limni on the island of Evia.
My 12 year old son and I were met at Athens airport by the friendly SwiminGreece team and driven straight up country complete with fascinating conversation on all things Greece and swimming – right from the off it was as if we had known each other years and the journey flew past.
After a peaceful night in a family villa by the beach, we all took a ferry over to Limni and settled in to our clean, whitewashed apartment, surrounded by lush gardens humming with cicadas. That evening I registered for the swim, introduced to the organisers and other swimmers by SwiminGreece, co-sponsors of the event.
Early the following morning we joined the flotilla of local boats taking participants and spectators over to the mainland for the start of the race. It was exciting to be part of this real Greek experience, with top national swimmers alongside us in the small fishing boat.
After an hour we reached the start point, readying ourselves for the big swim back to Limni - just visible on the horizon below the forested mountains of Evia. However, all morning the wind had been strengthening and swell we’d noticed on the way over was growing.
As each swimmer was designated their own support boat it was not possible to start the event until conditions calmed down. Unfortunately this meant a long wait, while all the time the sun was getting hotter. A decision had to be made, and finally around midday we were told that the event would be shortened to an 8km coastline swim from a beach below a secluded convent, back to Limni.
The swim itself was amazing: warm blue water - suddenly completely calm! These was a rare experience for me, coming from the murky and not very warm North Sea. Still, I swam OK and at least didn’t come in last. My support boat gave me regular information and constant encouragement and I felt a great sense of achievement on that final push in to Limni bay.
The next day our sons took gold and silver in the 250m junior race along Limni beachfront. We shared a beautiful seafood lunch, bought some local honey and olives and set off for the evening drive back to Athens.
The whole experience was totally authentic and unforgettable. I can’t thanks SwiminGreece enough for their incredible hospitality and skill in organising my participation in this truly classic Greek channel swim. I hope to return to Limni to have a proper go at the full distance!