A Panorama of Blue
This is so much more than I ever could have imagined. The Cook Islands. Rarotonga, quite magical. The sea the most blue of blues offset by shades of turquoise and the verdant mountains beyond. Wow, warm water. Mesmerizing life under the sea the likes of which I had never seen. And then on to Aitutaki where the panorama of blue above and below the water line defied definition despite our best efforts. I was blown away. We lacked the necessary adjectives. ‘It’s ridiculous’ was voiced frequently together with ‘insane’. In the end we were reduced to silent appreciation. What a destination!
Ringing Dan three years ago was one of my better decisions. The goal, tentatively expressed, to swim three consecutive lengths of the 92.4m Tooting Bec lido in London. Set within the context of recovery from a period of illness this took two years to achieve; but we did it. Water is a wonderful medium. Expert coaching is a gift. What’s possible redefined. And this UK summer during a 1 to 1 session at the lido when least expected I relaxed fully in the water. Swimming transformed, again; which was perfect timing for travel to the Cooks for a RealSwim adventure.
The RealSwim ethos; swims are fun, social and sportive. Excitement and passion the undercurrents #nailedit. Our swim group gelled within hours of meeting. Supported, inspired with personal journeys; the fun and funny moments flowed. As did the pre-, pre-dinner drinks! Swims were choreographed beautifully and nature joined in; the fish getting bigger as we went deeper. Napoleon Wrasse lurking as we swam the outer canyons beyond the reef the sea bed undulating far below us.
The water clarity in the lagoons was sublime. Turtles; territorial trigger fish, happy to bite to prove the point!; the far more sociable and banana loving zebra fish; and the majestic Giant Travelly. As I floated face down one passed close directly under my mid-line. Looking that fish in the eye an extraordinary experience. Let’s take a moment here to delve into the world of vibrantly coloured giant clams. Check out the restoration programme headed up by the engaging Charley Waters, which concerns enhancing the marine ecosystem by planting live corals and giant clams on near shore reefs. Please support or get involved where possible www.aitutakireefkeepers.com
A final word on the swimming. The first swim of the week at around 3.3K was longer than planned as we explored, marine adventurers, zig zagging our way through coral teeming with life and surprises. The pattern was set. The distance surpassed anything I, or some others in the group, had swum previously. By the end of the week we had all sunk lower in the water as we found a new swim rhythm. All very celebratory.
Such experiences are a team effort. Huge thanks therefore to Dan and ‘Nemo’ for being brilliant; to my awesome new Southern Hemisphere swim friends; to ace photographer and drone pilot Barry; and to the generous locals who navigated the waters, swam with us, fed us masses of delicious food and kept the fire pit burning as together we watched the sun set and chatted into the night. An abundance of wonderful shared memories. I haven’t stopped grinning!
‘For adventure … simply add water’ www.realswimadventures.com Next Cook Islands trips are April and October 2017 – strictly limited spaces.
Thanks to Karen for sharing her journey to date … we look forward to the next installment!