June 2014 and it was time to head back to the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia for another stint as an open water swim guide. It felt quite strange to be back again after only nine months away as it was all so familiar and I could not quite believe I was back again for another stint. This time I was there for the start of the season, so we had a few days to get all the equipment ready. I was looking forward to sharing guiding assistance to more guests, as I really felt like a local this time, instead of a new boy. We were greeted warmly by the wonderful staff at the host hotel, and it was great to see the island of Prvic Luka before the busy summer season got underway.
Before we knew it though, the first guests had arrived and it was time to get down to work in these idyllic islands. Unlike last season though, the weather was not as kind to us, and we had several days of inclement weather and adverse winds in the first few weeks. Despite this though we were able to get in the water twice each day.
We took the opportunity this time to get some new swims in. Of course we made sure we did the glorious crossing from Zmajan to Kaprije, the sensational coastal at Zirje, and the swim down the Sibenik Channel. However, we also were lucky to have a dead calm day so we swam from Sestrica to Zlarin. It was one of those days when the sun was warm, the sea was calm, and there was just a hint of a zephyr bringing the chimes from the church bells on Prvic Luka which was around five km away. It felt great to be alive.
Other new swims for me included a swim from the western side of Zlarin into the harbour, and along Oblik, Rakitan and Dvainka. One of the great advantages of this location is that you can swim in a sheltered spot somewhere no matter which way the wind blows. Added to this are the high salt content of the water, the lack of tides, waves or swell, no sharks, no rips and crystal clear warm water. It really is a swimmer’s paradise, and I felt lucky to be able to work there again.
During the time I was in Croatia the World Cup was on in Brazil, and it was fun to follow the results. My home country Australia had qualified again, and despite been in the same pool as Chile, Spain and Netherlands there was always hope. It was great to watch the games with the Croatian commentary team, despite understanding none of it. There was a glorious four minutes when Australia was even beating the Netherlands during that game, but the Socceroos were gallant in defeat. While they may have been one of the first teams on the party plane home, they had great company with Spain and England amongst others. It was grand to watch the island come to a halt while Croatia was playing their games.
Once again I had a lot of fun with the wonderful swimmers who would come for a week to swim amongst the islands. Some of them even listened to our coaching tips that were aimed at improving their efficiency in the water. There was a unique pleasure in watching them get stronger and more confident over the time they were with us.
One advantage of having a milder summer this year was the great sunsets and sunrises due to the increased cloud cover. But before long, it was time to leave this little piece of paradise. A huge thankyou to the locals who made us feel so very welcome once again and provided great hospitality.