Swimming Adventure in Prvič, Croatia
July 24-30, 2010
There are 80 pictures here.
The swimming adventure was conducted by an organization in England called SwimTrek, a holiday company which takes you on open water swimming trips in various parts of the world. Go to http://www.swimtrek.com for details on them.
Saturday July 24 - After spending two nights in Split I took a bus to the medieval city of Šiebenik and then a thirty minute ferry ride to Prvič. There were a lot of college-age folks traveling, especially at the bus station, with their back packs.
Prvič is a tiny car-free island, one of 1,185 Croatian islands, of which only 47 are inhabited. Prvič was our base camp for the week, where a group of fifteen of us gathered. Most of us stayed at the only hotel on the island, the Hotel Maestral.
We are a mixed bunch. I was the only one from America. There were two sisters from Austria and the other twelve were from Great Britain. There were two guides: Mia Russell and Borut Arel, along with the 15 swimmers.
The wind was up for a few days. It cooled off the top layer and also brought up the colder layer. The water temperature dropped from 25C to 20 C (77F to 68F) which is cold for swimming. Fortunately they had enough wet suits for all who wanted them. I did. They also offered swim fins for those who wanted them. I had brought my own (snorkeling fins) and used them all the time except for the tunnel swim (described later).
Each day’s activities were weather-dependent, so we had to be flexible, which we were.
Sunday July 25 – The first event of the morning was a 400 meter trial run to make sure we could swim and at what speed. I was placed in the slow group. The fast group was given yellow swim caps, the medium group was given orange swim caps, and the slow group was given pink swim caps. I was the slowest (and oldest) swimmer, and was placed in the pink group. I decided to swim with my snorkel fins and wear a wet suit. Shirley Emerson and I were the only ones in the pink group. We were told that the swimmers in each group had to stay together and not get too spread out.
We swam 2.0 km in the morning. (1.6 km ≈ 1 mile) Then they took a video of each of us swimming. Borut reviewed all of them that evening for us and gave us feedback on improving our swim techniques for open water swimming. I learned a lot.
A safety boat went along with each group – the main boat and two rubber boats with motors - so if you had any trouble, you just raise your hand and the boat will pick you up. So this whole adventure was very safe.
After each swim we would take off our wet suits (those who wore them) and hang them to dry. You can tell that it is windy.
That day I swam faster than Shirley because I had fins and she did not. So I would get ahead of her, and then wait for her to catch up. Each group had to stay together for safety reasons.
Swimming in salt water is nice because you are more buoyant in it.
Here is what the water looked like with the wind blowing a little.
After the morning swim we had lunch on the boat. Here we are waiting on a pier.
Monday July 26 – we took a boat to the entrance to Krka National Park and walked 4 km to the falls.
It is a very popular place with lots of people there. We ate a picnic lunch and swam at the base of the falls.
We took a ferry back to the park entrance and then swam 2.8 km down stream down the river. We were not as buoyant in the fresh water as in the Adriatic Sea.
Tuesday July 27 – During WW2, a sea tunnel was carved into the cliffs by German occupying forces, which they used to conceal their speed boats and then surprise incoming enemy ships. Locally it is called “Hitler’s tunnels.”
We all had to swim together as the safety boats could not go through the tunnel. There was a fence that would stop them. Furthermore, we had to swim breast stroke and keep our head above the water all the time, since it was dark most of the way and pitch black in the middle. We counted off; I was number 12. So every once in a while the guide would start counting, and we would count in turn, to make sure we were all there. That was quite an interesting experience. This was about a 1.7 km swim.
Here we are at the start
Then we swam to the island of Ljuljevac, in front of the Šibenik port, with the 16th century A. Nikolas fortress. It was built to prevent Turkish boats from reaching the port. It was armed with 32 cannons. However its imposing appearance and size were a bigger threat to the enemy than the cannons. It is made of brick because this material was considered to be most resistant to cannon balls, while the foundations are made of stone.
In the meantime Shirley had decided to wear fins, and moved up to the orange group. And then Amanda, Linda, Eva, and Martina decided to move back from the orange group to the pink group so that they could have a more relaxed swim without the pressure of keeping up. So there were now five in the "pink cap" group.
If you got thirsty while swimming, you signaled the safety boat and they would toss you a bottle of energy drink. Here is Anisha getting refreshed.
We reached the island and wandered around the fortress for quite a while.
Afterwards we had lunch on the main boat. The food was good every day. Today, the boat captain, Jadran, caught some mussels, so that was an added treat to our lunch.
Wednesday July 28 – The water was very calm this morning, as there was no wind. We swam a crossing from the islands of Zmijan to Kaprije. The pink group swam 2.2 km. It took me 1 hour and 5 minutes. This was my most enjoyable swim of the entire week.
After this swim, Jadran took his fishing net out next to a pier and caught fresh fish to add to our lunch. Jandran called them brafun (I could not find this on the internet), sort of like big sardines. After they are cooked you eat the whole thing.
We had lots of extra time, so I just took off and hiked on the island of Kaprije.
Looking at where we swam this morning. Go past the island in the foreground and to the next island. We started behind it and came to the pier on the mainland.
There were lots of stone fences that had been built over the centuries. Perhaps they were used to herd goats or sheep.
The water is incredibly clear along the entire coast of Croatia. Here are some little fish. You can see some rocks on the bottom, maybe six to fifteen feet deep.
The wind came up that afternoon and it was too strong and the waves too choppy for anyone to swim.
Thursday July 29 We were told that sometimes fences were used to build terraces on the islands, as part of erosion control.
On our way to the starting point. You can see that the water is a little rough. So rather than swimming a transit between islands, we swam along the coast of an island.
I swam about 2 km and then got on the boat, as did Linda and Amanda.
It was too windy for anyone to swim that afternoon. I am sheltered from the wind on the boat with Eva and Liz.
We finished the day with a group dinner where they gave us Swim Trek t-shirts and a map of where all we swam.
All in all I swam a total of about 13.3 km (8.3 miles) during the week. Who would have thought I could have done that!
The next day I took a ferry back to Šiebenik and then a bus to Makarska. I got to be very good at taking buses and understanding the schedules.
That's all for Prvič.