Paradise close to home: Swim the Island

Roberto Muratore

Those who practice open water swimming are constantly on the look out for the latest essential: be it a costume, goggles, or water, transparent if possible.  Immersing yourself in this sea of liberty often requires long, demanding and costly trips.  Unfortunately therefore, too often, you never leave the world of dreams.


But what if this paradise was just a hop across the Channel?  Bergeggi, for example, is a small village with about a thousand inhabitants that looks out over the Ligurian Sea from an altitude of 110 metres.  An part of this little village, Torre del Mare, is nestled on the shore of the nature reserve that looks out at the island set in front of the sandy beach.  From the outside, it is not particularly exciting: a pleasing, but seemingly normal coastal view.  To understand why this segment of salt water has become a protected marine area, you need to dive in with de-misted, sparkling-clean goggles.  The water isn’t transparent, it is crystal clear.  You’ll struggle for breath, not from the fatigue of swimming, but from the breath-taking view.  There in front of your eyes, limestone covered with mediterranean scrub, a sea bottom of coral and pastures of Posidonia oceanica: a treasure chest of biodiversity, history and legend.


Swim the Island is the key to enter into this parallel world, an example of nature conservation that is so suggestive it seems almost surreal.  Started as a joke, on the whim of a group passionate about conservation, now the race in the open water of Bergeggi has been inserted into the end of summer calendar (usually it is the first weekend of October) It assembles almost 1000 swimmers from all over the world: over and above the participation of Italians, who are very open to this new type of event, passionate swimmers punctually arrive from France, Spain, United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, Germany, Austria, Poland, Luxemburg, USA, Canada and South Africa in the province of Savona.


Three distances make up the program; the classic nautical mile, 1.8km, the middle distance of 3.5km in which you skim the island opposite the start zone, and the 5km for distance swimming purists, enabling them to circumnavigate the island of Bergeggi, savouring every glimpse of the magnificent sea bottom and swimming next to the champions of mimicry (cuttlefish, octopus and rockfish).  The organisers have managed to marry sporting passion with the marine beauty offered by the region of Liguria, beauty that reaches its pinnacle in this spot.  The objective is to amplify even more this non conventional form of tourism, tourism that has no negative impact on the territory, but has the ability to able to move a lot of people.


Distance swimming is challenging, but this context can’t but provide an extra boost of energy.  And talking of energy, after the race you start the wonderful discovery of the typical food of the region, stiumulating all five senses once again.  A short distance from the finish in a 50 metre slice of public beach, there is a kiosk that offers a tangible example of fishing tourism. Their offer includes excellent regional cuisine, a fishing boat to visit the protected marine area and the opportunity to go fishing with a staff of sailors, captains, engineers who then become chefs, teachers of marine biology, geology and marine arts once the boat has set sail.  Now, don’t you agree that open water swimming can be exciting?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *