We just completed a week of delightful open water swimming in Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic, in the Caribbean Sea. The sea water was 79 F (26 C), with mostly sunny skies in the 80’s, a little wind, a little swell, a little rain all mixing in for an enjoyable array of conditions. Not too hot in the day, nor any need for air conditioning or more than a t-shirt in the evenings.
Our group was composed of 9 swimmers and 5 coaches, our local host partner and one companion from USA, Switzerland, Netherlands, UK and DR.
We have different levels of camps, and this one was focused on introducing pool swimmers to open water and guiding intermediate ow-skilled swimmers to more comfort and confidence in real open water. We put in great emphasis on providing a safe, accepting, and encouraging social atmosphere for all kinds of people. Some of our swimmers were healing up from serious injuries and needed the therapeutic touch of sun, sea and sensitive coaching. Some of our swimmers needed to release the stress of their other responsibilities in life and found that release in mindful harmony with the water. Everyone soaked up the comfortable climate, food, and the warm fellowship with each other.
The Story Of Our Week
Our week followed this schedule with 7 days and 6 nights:
On the first day, everyone arrives at our lodging, with most coming on the private group transfer we had arranged from Santo Domingo. We had a catered lunch waiting, and did our greetings and orientation. After unpacking in our rooms, we took a walk to the nearby beach to cool off in the wonderfully warm salt water.
On the second day, in the morning, we did some technical clinics and divide into two groups for a swim to test out the swells just beyond that sheltering point. In the afternoon, each swimmer had a 45 minute one-on-one private lesson with a coach in the pool at our villas.
On the third day, in the morning, we did some more technical clinics and a swim afterward. In the afternoon, we went to another nearby beach and divided into two groups for swimming longer continuous distance to practice organizing and directing attention on certain parts of the body and stroke.
On the fourth day, in the first half of the day, most people in our group went on a hike in the forested mountains to the El Limon waterfall, while Coach Mat stayed behind to do lessons with a couple people in the pool. That afternoon we did another continuous swim to practice the skills we’ve covered already.
On the fifth day, we board a large comfortable bus and drive to Las Galeras, about 2 hours away, to take a boat ride to a somewhat remote beach for more swimming, lunch and exploratory swimming. We’re gone all day and stop for dinner on the drive back that evening.
On the sixth and final day of formal training, we set up a challenge swim along the coast of an extremely photogenic beach. The sea conditions were calm and clear. We divided into a 2 km group and a 4 km group, with each to be escorted by a coach in a kayak, and other coaches in the water. We transported everyone down the coast from our nearby beach, to the starting points for each group, depositing the 2 km group first so they could start first. This way everyone could swim one-way, back to the beach near our lodging. They were to keep the shore on their right, just a pool length away (at least that was what they were instructed to do!) to make navigation extremely simple.
A psychological bonus on this route was that at any point a swimmer could simply swim over to the shore and walk along the beach if they wanted. That gave comfort to those who were in doubt about how far they could go. But in the end, everyone swam their full distance. We were so proud and they were proud of themselves.
One swimmer said it was the most amazing conditions she had every swam in. Another, whose longest swim previously was 5K, decided that if swimming could feel this good he was ready to swim a 10K later this year. We all heard him say he would!
We spent Friday evening sipping drinks, giving thanks for our week together, congratulating our swimmers, giving hugs, sharing stories, and eating a catered dinner of local cuisine, sitting poolside at our villas. It was a perfect formal ending to a virtually perfect week.
On the seventh day, some of us arose just before sunrise, walked down to the beach and swam out a ways into the sea to great the sunrise. One last opportunity to soak in the refreshing atmosphere of this place and this wonderful group of people. After breakfast everyone packed up and loaded our private transfer for the ride back to the capital city.
Genuinely, it was a refreshing week for everyone, with the right mix of training, rest, food and fellowship with great people in a great location.
You might consider joining us next February. We schedule this camp in Dominican Republic for the middle weeks of February, when the sea and weather are about perfect for this. We will likely have 2 camps, each 1 week long, available in 2020.
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