The safety of guests is paramount on all tours. SwimQuest guides are all qualified Beach Lifeguards accredited by the Royal Life Saving Society or Surf Life Saving GB. Guides also have a First Aid at Work Qualification, along with the Royal Yachting Association Powerboat Level 2, and a food hygiene qualification.
Most tours will be led by two swim guides. Read more about our guides below:
Known to many as JCR, John set up SwimQuest in 2012 after having spent 10 years organising and planning swim trips worldwide. As well as taking people to beautiful and unique places to swim, John has a unique ability to help and encourage people to achieve their own personal goals. Having completed solo swims of the English Channel, Manhattan Island and Lake Zurich, as well as half and full Ironmans and marathons in the UK and the USA, John has used his own personal experience in swimming and triathlon to make the seemingly unattainable challenge for many become a reality. John is also the Vice President of International Winter Swimming Association and continues to advise and help select the host venue of this popular biannual championship.
“I come across individuals time and time again who are punching below their weight. I think it’s partly our job to help people realise how much potential they have as swimmers. I’ve had numerous guests over the years who have started as complete swimming newbies, and gone on to do really incredible swims. The boundaries to entry are so minimal – swimming really is a hobby open to all – and it’s always a delight to help people make the most of it.”
Alice spent six years after university working in the media: for West End productions, 20th Century Fox and The Telegraph Media Group. Open water has always been a passion, and as such she has always found as much time as possible to spend in pools, rivers, lakes and the sea – swimming, diving and freediving. In 2013, Alice joined John to develop SwimQuest into the brand it is today. When Alice is not guiding or planning tours, you’ll probably find her find her cycling, singing or painting.
“As a child I used to run around splashing like mad in the Whitby waves for hours – regardless of the weather! I’ve never lost that sense of carefree adventure with open water; it still continues to surprise and delight and that’s why it’s so wonderful. It just makes people happy – whether that be in the bracing waves of the North Sea, the sparkling Mediterranean, the glossy English Lakes or simply an outdoor lido. For me I swim all year round because I thrive on it – it’s a way of life, and I love sharing that with our guests.”
We are pretty sure Sam is the only swim guide in the world who holds a Guinness World Record! This year Sam swam the English Channel, breaking the record for the fastest crossing of the English Channel in a mixed butterfly relay team (19 hours 15 minutes). When she’s not flying around, you’ll find Sam working in a hospital as a physiotherapist, or in her studio, creating art which focuses on adventure and the natural world. This summer Sam is planning a fly relay crossing of Lake Geneva. After all, why crawl when you can fly?!
Charlotte knew she wanted to swim the English Channel at the age of 7, and spent every day of the summer holidays as a child in her friend’s swimming pool. A love for horses and all things rural took over, until the dream to swim the Channel became reality when she booked it in 2012. Two years of training led to a successful crossing in 2014, reigniting a passion for swimming and wanting to help others with their swimming goals, whether that is making a 25m length possible (without being out of breath at the end!) or helping others with their long-distance ambitions.
“I believe we should all make the most of what we have, particularly our physical capabilities, whatever they may be. I love to help people and thrive on seeing them succeed, so being a swim guide and helping SwimQuest guests in any way I can, is the ideal job for me!”
NATALIE DUMONT De CHASSART
“Care-free hours spent in the water are some of my most memorable and happy childhood memories. In my school years I discovered the competitive nature of swimming and experienced the wonderful intensity of challenging training sessions and fierce racing. Now I continue to value swimming as an escape, quite literally, from the ongoing bustle of the outside world – It’s certainly an immersion of the soul as well as the body and I am so excited that I get to guide, and share that experience others.”
Nye runs his own personal training business in Exeter (www.nl-wellness.com) and is passionate about introducing people to the benefits of ‘swimming as it should be’ – in seas, lakes and rivers. Nye’s swimming accolades are impressive, and include a gold in the one-hour postal swim, and a gold medal in the Dart 10km (and the record time in 2013).
“I believe swimming is one of the best activities anyone can do. I have helped hundreds of people learn to swim, and the rewards are always huge – not just through fitness and weight loss, but through personal wellbeing, and general self-esteem. Water is an incredible element and when people discover open water for the first time the reaction is often amazing. I remember my first open water swim – I was 13 and my parents took me swimming from one island to another in Greece – I was hooked!”
Alice has spent the past five years researching the impacts of modern energy technologies on rural development in Southern Asia. She has studied in England, Wales, Delhi and Dhaka and worked and travelled extensively throughout Central Asia and West Africa. Memorable swims on Alice’s travels include Lake Karakol in Western China, Lake Song-Kul in Kyrgyzstan, gorge swimming in Aksu-Zhabagly National Park, Kazakhstan, Wikki Springs in North Eastern Nigeria and swimming around Banana Island, Sierra Leone… she could go on …
“In 2010 I met John who encouraged me to take my swimming to the next level. In September 2012 I completed my solo English Channel (13 hours 55 mins), and to date I have participated in five EC relays, including a four person two way relay in 2013, and have another EC relay planned in September 2014 . I have also helped to establish an open water swimming group in Bournemouth and supported multiple EC solo and relay swims.”
LIZZIE DE BONO
“I have loved swimming out in the open water since I was a child, but as an adult open water swimming has taken me around world. I love seeing a place from water level and often experience a lovely connection with nature whilst on a long swim in a remote spot. This is what I adore about guiding, being able to experience the varying and beautiful seas of the world, with swimmers who love being in the water as much as me.”
Teresa swims all year round and is a keen member of the Serpentine Swimming Club. Memorable swims include a relay of Lake Zurich and lots of wake-you-up dips in the Scottish highlands! When Teresa isn’t swimming, she specialises in Equine Therapy.
“You always feel better after a swim, whatever the weather! Swimming is one of those amazing, feel-good activities which lets you completely switch off and take a break from your day-to-day activities. I’ve been lucky enough to swim in some amazing places. If I had to pick a favourite … I would probably say Formentera (just off Ibiza – I also like a good party) closely followed by Scottish Hebrides. The water is so clear in both locations – you feel like your flying! Slightly chillier in Scotland though, I have to admit …”
Rachel left her city life in London in 2007 with her family to travel around South America and Australia. They now live in beautiful Chamonix and haven’t looked back. Rachel has a solid triathlon background, and recently swam the length of Annecy in preparation for her next challenge: the infamous Arch to Arc (we’re impressed). As such, Rachel’s days are spent swimming, running and cycling in preparation for her A2A slot in July. Go Rachel go!
“Open water swimming is part of my passion for living a life of adventure and challenge in natural surroundings. I swim in seas, rivers and lakes because when I do I feel happy and fully alive. Sometimes I might explore my physical and mental limits during a cold sea swim. Other times I might float in a mountain lake and soak up feeling a part of something much, much bigger than me. Swimming has enriched my life in so many ways and it’s a privilege to help other people experience this too.””
Having spent ten years in the army, Andy then made a transition to the city to work for Goldman Sachs. In 2012 he became a freelance consultant. Andy has always been a keen open water swimmer and is part of the Committee at the Serpentine Swimming Club. Previous swims include Lake Annecy, an English Channel and a Jersey-France relay and a Serpentine Arch to Arc relay. Andy is also a keen cave-diver and cyclist. If he’s not drinking tea at the Serps, he is probably out and about riding a bike round the Surrey hills.
“I’ve always found swimming a good way to stay fit and remain injury free. Open water swimming is such a sociable sport too – especially at the Serpentine! Swimming soon takes over your social life. More than anything – it’s just good fun.”
Nick lives a lifestyle most of us can only dream about: as the Head Swimming coach for Omanu Swim Club (New Zealand) from October – April, and as the RNLI Lifeguard supervisor for the UK’s Norfolk beaches during the British summertime. Nick completed 2008 open water olympic trials, he is a national open water medalist and a surf lifesaving competitor in both Great Britain and New Zealand.
“I adore swimming outdoors – outdoor pools, natural rivers, lakes or the ocean. So far on my travels my favourite swim location is without doubt the Mediterranean. The water is so blue, and the depth is vast – there isn’t anything quite like it anywhere else in the world.”
Heidi has been swimming for as long as she can remember. She was a high school All American and swam collegiately for the University of Texas and University of Notre Dame. Her senior year, she was a captain of the team and the fastest 100 and 200 freestyler. Heidi first began swimming in open water when she started racing in triathlons for over 15 years ago. Since then, she has raced in a number of 5K swims, the 10K US Masters National Championships, and has also completed relays across Lake Tahoe and the English Channel. When not in the water, you can likely find Heidi immersed in the art world in the French Quarter in New Orleans where she runs an art gallery for nationally known artist Chris Roberts Antieau.
“I think Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: ‘Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air. ’ For me, true happiness is found in the water. Whether it be grinding out laps in a pool or effortlessly traversing a beautiful lake, I believe being in the water is one of this world’s greatest gifts and it is my hope to share that joy with as many people as possible.”
Convinced she could swim before she could walk, Mia has been swimming competitively since the age of five and has an inordinate love of the water, whether pool, lake or the sea. Still a national Masters swimmer, she regularly competes in the pool and at various open water events. Mia has worked as an adventure holiday swim guide for five years, swimming in some of the world’s most beautiful places, and has been coaching others to swim for over 20 years. She is currently the head swim coach at a private school in Cape Town and is a freelance journalist when she is not swimming or coaching.
“Life is better when you are swimming.”