Swim adventure in Skopelos island / Greece
Four years ago I went with SwiminGreece to Sporades islands. When the ferry went along the eastern coast I saw a lot of lonely beaches. On this side of the island there are no villages and almost no streets. “That would be a nice place for some coastal swimming.”, I thought. Afterwards when I did some coastals with SwiminGreece I got to know the western and southern coasts of the island. And I was convinced that this island is worth to explore more than only a few days. I looked at a map of Skopelos and began dreaming… And then an idea evolved in my mind that survived for years: Swim around Skopelos in one week, everyday from one village to another. Just on my own, pulling my clothes behind me in a dry bag.
The next years I experimented with dry bags. At my local lake I put a rope around my hips and fixed it with the dry bag. I used a 30 liter dry bag and put 4 big bottles of water in it, and… it worked, a bit slower but still fun to swim.
But there was another problem to solve. On the eastern coast of Skopelos there is no village for about 20 km. So I needed a very small sleeping bag and mat to sleep one night at a beach. I experimented with an aluminium mat and an aluminium blanket. I found out that it is not very comfortable, but for one warm summer night it works.
When I decided to follow SwinimGreece again it was clear that this is the time to try the surrounding. Here is what happened…
I am always excited before the start of an adventure. How will the first strokes feel like? Will it be easy to swim with my dry bag full of all my clothes, food, etc.? Was my physical preparation enough?
But from the beginning all went fine. I left the bay of Panormos and headed to the north along Milia beach and 4 other lonely beaches. Some wind was blowing, but the waves were small and friendly. Soon I arrived at the small village Neo Klima. It felt more like a holiday on the beach than an adventure. I walked around and found a quiet apartment to sleep. In the afternoon I had a desire to swim again, but I decided to save my energy and did some stretching at the beach.
Like the day before the swimming was easy. As expected some wind and current came from the north, but not too much. I arrived very relaxed at Glossa. I got a room near the harbor. In the afternoon I went up the Chora where you have a fantastic view over the sea.
The next day will be the first challenging distance. And northern capes in Greece are always challenging concerning wind and waves. Therefore I decided to start with the sun rise. I took 3 bottles (1.5 liter) of water with me. As food 2 packages of NRG-5 should be enough for 2 days. So my dry bag was heavier now and filled to the top with all the stuff.
I stood at the beach of Glossa and watched the sea while I was doing my morning ritual, creaming my whole body with sun cream, packing my clothes into the dry bag, fixing the rope on my hips. The surface of the sea was like a lake – perfect conditions. But conditions could change quickly and I tried to reach the northern cape as soon as possible. I saw that the northern coast of Skopelos is very easy to swim. The water is not very deep and with the perfect conditions there were no waves at all. As I had no clock with me I estimate that it took me 4 hours to arrive at the first beach in the east. The last meters seemed to be harder and harder to me. Was I tired, or was the beach more far away than it seemed? I entered the beach to have a break and found the answer inside of my dry bag. Some liters of water came inside.
In the late afternoon, after my clothes dried, I continued swimming to my destination, a lonely beach that has perfect protection against the wind, maybe 2km further on. I found it on google maps and when I arrived there it seemed really a perfect place to sleep. It is one of the beaches where you let your clothes fall down and immediately feel one with nature. I placed my mat in the middle of the beach 3 meters away from the water, ate some NRG-5 and fell into sleep with the sun.
I woke up at night and with a feeling that I am ill. “Is it true or am I just tired?” I ate 2 vitamin pills and slept again. I fell to sleep again and woke up with the sun. Was I really ill? I did my morning routine and when I entered the water I still was not sure. I was sweating a lot. Is the morning sun so hot or what? What was my plan B in this case? – Just swim and in case of emergency get out at the next possibility. There would be one about 2 km away.
I started and at the beginning everything went fine. But it got harder and harder. My back was stiff and I had to swim more and more backstroke and breaststroke. And it seemed that I got slower and slower. To make it short, I arrived after about 7 hours in Skopelos town. I was totally exhausted and as I recognized later on I had fever. Game over. The positive thing was that I did not have to think about the continuation of my adventure.
And another positive experience: A Greek couple, who are fans of Spiros Gianiotis, saw me arriving. When I told them what I had done they welcomed me very kind and said they would admire me for that. So that is how I see it now, maybe a failed adventure. But I showed that it is possible to swim from Glossa to Skopelos town in 2 days, sleep at the beach and having all the equipment in a dry bag. And maybe my experience is an inspiration for you.
After one day resting in bed I feel better now, and maybe tomorrow I will enter the sea again for a short recovery swim…
Article by Lars Fiedler, Germany
*Lars completed about the 2/3 of the route around Skopelos, having swum about 30 km. He was fine after a couple of days and, as he is a great open water swimmer and a really courageous guy, just afterwards he joined the SwiminGreece one-week swimming tour and continued swimming for another 6 days with the group. It was great to have you with us Lars! Hope we see you again in Greece for a new achievement !