If you’d told me at the start of the year I’d spend my free time swimming across various lakes in the UK, I’d have laughed in complete disbelief. Fast forward, I found myself packing for our holiday and carefully folding my wetsuit, alongside my goggles and swimming cap, what had changed? I’d found a whole new love, that’s what had changed.
After a glorious summer spent in the UK, it was time for us to seek out a change of scenery and the most natural choice was one of my favourite locations, Chamonix. There’s something about being in the fresh Alpine air that brings out the best in me. Being in the mountains puts everything into perspective, I can change up my focus and allow my everyday problems to drift away.
With open water swimming, I rediscovered a part of me that I thought I had lost when I stopped climbing. There was always the feeling of euphoria when topping out a climb, or ascending a route I had been working for ages. I was unsure I would get those same moments back, but the feeling of plunging into blue water and catching my breath brings a rush of emotions and ecstasy. Being able to combine my love of the mountains and my new found love of swimming feels like a match made in heaven.
Being an avid internet-er, the first thing I did once the getaway was booked was googled “Open Water Swimming Chamonix”. I’ll admit the initial results weren’t that great, perhaps I was just searching for the wrong thing. Lac de Passy popped up a couple of times, and only being a 20 minute drive away from Chamonix I thought “this could work”. Lac de Passy is the biggest lake in the Mont-Blanc valley created for leisure and swimming. One end is home to a sandy beach, and the lake stretches just over a kilometre, so everyone can enjoy the pleasure of water! The lake is surrounded by a path which is the perfect place to walk, run or cycle. This would be the ideal location for a triathlete to train. Or for somewhere to camp and enjoy a whole range of activities such as windsurfing, stand-up paddle boarding or fishing.
I purposefully chose a day when rain was forecast, thankfully swimming is one of the few sports where rain is far from a hindrance. Much to our surprise, we arrived in bright sunshine and found that the lake was completely empty, still blue waters, and ours to explore alone. After a carpark change into our wetsuits, we hurried across to the lake, excited to experience a new venue and thankful for the peace and tranquillity. However, I will add I can see this place getting extremely busy during school holidays and weekends.
My initial reaction was surprise, the sand was soft and gently warmed by the sun, and the water was so calm it looked like a sheet of glass. This was very different to what I have experienced in the UK so far. I waded out into the warm clear blue water, caught my breath and started to swim. It seemed surreal having a lake to ourselves, it was like our own private, but very large swimming pool. I will have to say this was one of the most enjoyable swims to date, and not one weed in site to get tangled in.
For many of us, the main reason for travelling is to leave behind what we call home and unwind whilst creating new memories. My last swim in the UK was bitterly cold, after dealing with the initial shock, I spent the first 300m working on a groove and trying to adapt. As a result, it ended up being one of my slowest swims yet, I didn’t want to lose the love for swimming, or become a slave to numbers. Therefore, we broke up our swim in Lac de Passy, once we reached the far side of the lake we took a break just to relax on the dock, and take in the view and celebrate being in such a wonderful location.
Whilst I can’t guarantee that you’ll find somewhere to swim in every country across the globe, what I will recommend is to explore and to not be afraid. You might just uncover a hidden jewel.
Katie is a food, fitness, lifestyle & mental health blogger. You can find out more about her over at Cake Vs Scales.