MEET YOUR GUIDES
On your swimming holiday you will be looked after by one or two SwimQuest guides, who will work alongside our local boat pilots and hosts to ensure you have a wonderful, safe week of swimming.
Our guides are all qualified beach lifeguards accredited by the Royal Lifesaving Society. They also hold the RYA Powerboat Level 2 Certificate, First Aid at Work, and a Food Hygiene qualification. In addition, they are inspirational, talented swim coaches – and are always happy to help you to improve your technique throughout the week.
We have worked with Silver Olympic medallist Keri-anne Payne to ensure our guides are delivering the best possible swim coaching. Many of our guides hold the STA’s Open Water Swim Coaching qualification.
Nick could swim before he could walk! With parents involved in swim teaching and coaching, Nick was encouraged into the water at a young age and still loves the water today. After an impressive national level swimming career, Nick qualified as a Level 1 & 2 swim teacher & gained coaching qualifications to start a journey in helping others enjoy the water as much as he does.
‘I chased summers for several years working in the southern hemisphere as a Beach Lifeguard & Swimming Coach. In-between my winters overseas I worked as a beach lifeguard in the Norfolk area along with Swim guiding for JCR! I still love the water & always looking to expand my aquatic journey learning new skills & experiences. I love everything about a swim tour: meeting new people, hearing stories of life, expanding experiences through water and discovering new exciting locations to take a dip in! My work role now includes working for the RNLI in the drowning prevention & water safety department and fitting in as many trips with SwimQuest as I can!’
Charlie 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. The dream to swim the Channel became reality when she successfully crossed to France in 2014. Since then, she has wanted 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. In 2017 decided to swim Lake Annecy (15km), backstroke, followed by a return to the Channel in 2018 for a Medley Relay.
“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!”
Sarah has always enjoyed swimming and has taught and coached for many years. She is passionate about introducing people to the Open Water and sharing the physiological and psychological benefits of this natural environment. Based in the Cotswolds, she runs her own coaching business www.MySwimPod.co.uk working with all types of swimmers to help them find their happy place in the water.
“I love being a swim guide with SwimQuest. I get to travel, grab a healthy dose of sunshine and work with incredible people to help them develop their stroke and confidence in the Open Water. There is nothing better than being part of a pod on a swim adventure.”
Known to many as JCR, John has been organising and planning swim trips worldwide since the first ever swimming holiday back in 2001. As well as scoping out the most beautiful and undiscovered 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.”
Joanna was a club pool swimmer when she was younger, but growing up in Devon also meant she developed a huge connection with the outdoors and spent countless hours playing in the sea and surfing with friends.
When Joanna moved to London in 2011 to train as a solicitor she quickly discovered the Serpentine Swimming Club for her daily swimming fix, and it is where her open water swimming adventures accelerated. In 2015 Joanna was part of a relay team that swam the English Channel, and in 2016 she was part of a four person relay who swam the 70km length of Lake Geneva. Joanna has also completed numerous solo 10km swim events and more recently completed her first Ironman triathlon.
“I’ll happily say I’m obsessed with swimming – being able to glide through water, whether an ocean, lake, river or even pool, is my freedom. The colours of open water, from liquid turquoise to the deepest of blue silk, is an incomparable beauty that can capture your heart and soul in just one stroke.”
Natalie Dumont De Chassart
Natalie grew up in Zimbabwe, and is a lover of both pool and sea swimming. Swimming pools, lakes, dams and the salty indian ocean were a welcome relief from the heat of the day. Nat spent six years representing Zimbabwe in the pool,and has placed in various open water races during her time at University in Cape Town. Nat has also captained Mashonland East Swim team at Zimbabwe Nationals and various galas in South Africa.
“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.”
Jai has been a full time swimming teacher and coach for over 20 years, teaching both children and adults of all ability levels. Jai runs his own swim school in Leicestershire – The Swim Station. He is ASA qualified and also a Total Immersion Master Coach. Swimming isn’t just a job for Jai, it is his hobby too – having completed many long distance swims including Lake Windermere and the English Channel. In his spare time Jai also coaches for Hinckley Swimming Club.
“I am passionate about teaching swimming – whether that be on poolside or standing on a beach and helping someone build confidence in open water. I particularly enjoy teaching adult beginners on SwimQuest tours, and watching their faces light up as they begin to find their own way in the water.”
Emma has been involved in open water swimming since about 2003. Her connection with the English Channel started in 2005 with her first relay. Since then she has completed a total of 20 English Channel relays, 3 English Channel solos, Round Jersey Solo, Jersey to France solo, Lake Zurich solo, amongst others. No doubt Emma has more swims in the pipeline. On top of this, Emma has run training for aspiring channel relay and solo swimmers since 2016, whilst still training for her own events. Emma is a Level 2 swimming teacher, Level 2 swimming coach and Level 2 open water coach, as well as being a master practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming and a trained hypnotist. As a result, Emma is uniquely positioned to help people train for big events by supporting both their physical training and the hidden 80% of what it takes – mental preparation.
“I seem to have developed a bit of a channel swimming habit! The sport has completely transformed my life. The open water swimming community is like nothing I’d previously experienced and it’s a real privelige to be part of it. I love watching those I help grow in confidence and go on to achieve amazing things.”
Back surgery in 2017 ended Jo’s triathlon days but led to a love of endurance swimming. Jo has completed numerous marathon swims including the Dart 10k, Dock2Dock, Thames Marathon and Jubilee River.
Stephen learnt to swim at 6 years old and within 2 years was swimming competitively at both a Club and Provincial level. He transitioned to open water swimming when at 21 years old – and long before this genre become popular and trendy. He is a qualified IASA Swimming Teacher and Provisional Club Coach, and an STA qualified Open Water Swimming Coach. Over the last few years he has taken up marathon swimming such as the Thames Marathon, Ullswater, Coniston, Windermere and the English Channel, as well as ice swimming including an IISA ice mile.
“I am often found in unheated lidos, rivers and lakes, however, the sea is where I love swimming most. I enjoy meeting new people and especially those who are passionate about open water swimming with all it’s peripheral ancillarisation…oh, and of course all the funny stories that inevitably happen when one mixes an adventurous spirit pitted with Mother Nature!”
Growing up by the coast in Norfolk, and a competitive swimmer from the age of 9, it is perhaps not surprising that Leah found a love for open water early on. Leah works as a Beach Lifeguard on the Norfolk coast during the summer months – and is also a swim teacher. Alongside continuing to compete at a regional level.
‘Having lived by the coast for as long as I can remember, swimming as a whole has played a fundamental role in my life. In my opinion swimming has to be the best activity someone can involve themself in, from the physical and mental benefits, to the social aspects. My love for open water swimming has done nothing but grow over the last few years. For me this is the reason I decided to become a swim guide, not only to anable other to achieve goals and aspirations but share my passion and love for open water swimming with others. To this day people say they see a smile on my face when I’m swimming… I’m quite literally in my happy place.’
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. We are hugely proud of Rachel for completing the infamous Arch to Arc Enduroman challenge – wait for it, without a wetsuit! If you haven’t heard of it, look it up – you’ll be impressed.
“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.”
Lara was lucky to grow up on the sunny shores of Sydney’s most northern Beach – Palm Beach. (Known to all you brits as Summer Bay). With most childhood mornings and evenings being spent catching waves, running in flippers and holding her breath for as long as she could underwater it’s no wonder the ocean is her happy place. Since the age of 12, she’s played waterpolo, completed in Open Ocean Water + Pool races and is a Surf Life Saver, and is happy to say, she still does all of the above. Back in Sydney, she runs her own freelance Experience Design company and a start-up called Sundae Suits. Lara decided to join the SwimQuest team after doing the Cold Water Acclimatisation Swim Camp in the Arctic Circle in 2017.
“My favourite moment in my work week, is when I tilt my head for a breath and the rising sun hits my face as I swim point to point with my swim group at Bondi Beach. For me, there is nothing quite like diving in the ocean .. swimming in a lake, a river or uncovering a secret waterfall!”
Clare developed a passion for swimming in her early years, swimming competitively from the age of 10. After some years of competing in the pool, she took a well earned break, and then swapped the pool for the open water. She has since competed in several events around Great Britain, from the Fjords of Ireland, to the Maryhill Locks in Glasgow for a winter Redbull event, and has many more exciting events and long distance swims planned around Europe for the year ahead. She has a passion for travel, teaching swimming, and loves meeting fellow open water swimmers to share swims, stories, and cake!
Chris got hooked on open water swimming when he went on his first swimming holiday in 2002, and from there got drawn into longer and longer races and eventually a Channel crossing in 2014. More recently he learnt to swim long-distance butterfly and took part in a medley Channel relay and the first successful all-butterfly relay swim of Lake Geneva.
“I love the outdoors and think there’s no better way to experience it than from the water. When the chance came along to transition from guest to guide I jumped at it. I get to help people discover the joys of open water swimming … and they call this work?”
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!”
Rose developed a love for the water at a very young age. She would often be found diving for coins or racing her grandparents in the pool. She went on to lifeguard and qualify as a swim teacher and particularly enjoyed making water fun for the kids and adults she taught. She found her true calling when she discovered cold water swimming at Tooting Bec Lido and after travelling to Finland with a fabulous (and slighly crazy) team of Brits, she ended up earning a Bronze medal at the World Ice Swimming Championships! Rose went on to complete an English Channel Solo in 2007, a full length 24 hour relay of Lough Erne in Ireland in 2007, and the Rottnest Channel in Australia in 2012. After moving to San Francisco, Rose joined the Dolphin Club and took part in many bay swims including Alcatraz and the length of the Golden Gate Bridge (when she was 38 weeks pregnant!). Rose has been a guest on several swimming adventure holidays and now enjoys sharing her passion and experience with guests of SwimQuest.
“I enjoy the meditation of swimming; the rhythm of arm over arm; the opportunity to focus on action and breath whilst being supported by the water”
Guy has spent a number of years working in sports coaching and as the RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor when they first managed the beaches in Norfolk, UK, before having a change of career and going back to university. After a number of years, realising he missed the world of sport and events, he set up his own event management company organising multi-sport events and open water swims. Now a coach for his club, he loves to coach both children and adults to a high level in the pool as well as helping people experience and learn the joys of open water swimming.
“Swimming has always been one of life’s passions for me. Seeing it from every angle, life skill, competition, water safety, rehabilitation as well as pure enjoyment, I’ve been fortunate to be able to coach people through all of these aspects. When you can be at one with the water, the pleasure you can get from competing, achieving a distance goal, improving your efficiency, swimming safely or maybe jumping into icy water for the first time at the cold water swimming champs, every time it’s a joyful experience, and one which everyone should try”.
Fiona is a qualified Open Water Coach and Beach Lifeguard, and runs a Community Interest Company, Sea Sure Brighton, which provides swimming courses for groups of individuals who wouldn’t otherwise access the sea.
“I have been swimming since I was four years old and love everything about water! Starting open water swimming in 2015 was a game changer for me and I love being able to share my knowledge with other people who might be starting outdoor swimming for the first time or have aspirations to challenge themselves on longer swims. I’m looking forward to sharing these skills on SwimQuest trips!”
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?!
Dee grew up in Galway on the west coast of Ireland, spending much of her youth in the pool as a swimmer and later taking part in water safety training courses in Salthill. This is a great sea swim location so it was inevitable that she would make the transition to the sea, which was a gradual process starting with triathlon and working all the way up to the English Channel. Dee’s military background has fostered her ability to feel right at home when cold, wet and trying her best not to be miserable! This led her to ice swim challenges, as well as utilising her leadership skills as a coordinator and safety observer for many ice swimming events. In addition, Dee swam 1km in Antarctica in Feb 2020.
As well as an impressive roster or solo swims, Dee has also completed a 6 person relay across the Irish Sea – an epic 38 hrs! Dee now coaches part time at her local swim club in Galway, she has experience with Halliwick Swimming and teaches and coaches open water swimmers seasonally.
“I am happiest in on or under water, partaking in various water sports and always encouraging others to join in.”
Tina has led an impressive career in the travel and activity holiday industry. Her adventures have included working as a Cruise Director for Carnival Cruise Lines, a cycling and hiking instructor for Exodus, a Red Coat for Bultins, and a speed boat driver and water sports coordinator in the USA before joining the SwimQuest team in 2017.
“Sharing your love and passion for life and spreading this to guests whilst they are on their lifetime adventures is an amazing feeling. My passion for swimming and travel is contagious, beware!”
By his own admission, Paul was late to swimming. He didn’t learn any discernible stroke until he was in his late thirties. But he is the exception that proves the SwimQuest rule; you’re never too old to swim and to surprise yourself! Within three years of learning to swim Paul had completed his first Ironman triathlon and he went on to complete many long-distance events, culminating in a successful Arch to Arc attempt, the crux of which included a solo swim of the English Channel. He has also completed eight Channel Relays, a Loch Ness Relay and swum the Solent from Portsmouth to Ryde. In September 2023 he will become the first person to return to the Arch to Arc when he joins a relay team attempting this challenge.
“The best thing about guiding is watching swimmers gain in confidence as a week progresses. You cannot beat sharing that sense of achievement that swimming can give someone.”
Nicola began to take a shine to open water swimming, masters swimming events and endurance sports after a swimming nationally in the pool for many years. Alongside successful employment in sport, higher education studies and additional industry qualifications, Nicola started swimming more seriously in open water through swimruns. As a result, Nicola entered her first UK Aquathlon and placed 1st. From there she qualified for the British Triathlon GB Age group team, won her first bronze medal for GB in age group at the European championships in Romania and now continues to qualify for each upcoming European\World championships.
“I decided to finally start my own business in October 2020. I wanted to find that work life balance again, utilise my experience and knowledge and be able to do something that I love everyday – help others realise their potential and generate results! I now regularly coach swimmers of all abilities in a range of locations throughout Norfolk and Suffolk including Fritton Lake, Lowestoft Beach, The Broads and Lido’s alongside some international travel/coaching with SwimQuest Holidays.”
Bertie has been involved with SwimQuest for some years now. As a guest he has swum in Turkey, the River Arun and round Burgh Island, he has also swum the Hellespont, been part of a Channel Relay and has done countless triathlons and races in lakes, rivers, seas, and pools. For Bertie, a week without swimming is a week ill spent. If filming in England, Bertie will take a wild swimming book with him and find a pond, pool or some other body of water to plunge into. Impressively, Bertie is also an Atlantic Ocean Rower and has completed the Marathon des Sables!
“To see someone doubt themselves at the beginning of a swimming holiday and then by the end having had the most wonderful time is worth it’s weight in gold – memories to cherish.”
Jenny joins the SwimQuest team from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Jenny’s love for long-distance swimming has led to her completing some incredible feats of endurance, including three of the Oceans Seven channel crossings, and the gruelling Arch to Arc in 2022. In addition to her swimming prowess, Jenny is also a yoga and meditation teacher.
In 2013, Alice had an ‘early life crisis’. Having spent years working in the media: for West End productions, 20th Century Fox and The Telegraph Media Group, she wanted to persue her passion for open water – and make her passion her work. Alice came across John Coningham-Rolls in 2013, and realised that with John’s experience running swimming holidays, and her experience working in media and marketing – they could create a fantastic swimming holiday offering. Open water has always been a passion, and Alice has always found as much time as possible to spend in pools, rivers, lakes and the sea – swimming, diving and freediving. When Alice is not guiding or planning tours, you’ll probably find her find her cycling, running, DJing, 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 the Serpentine. 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.”
Dewi has been involved in challenge events and swimming all his life and loves travel, swimming and helping people achieve their goals. After service as an officer in The Parachute Regiment he embarked on a career in swim and multisport event management specialising in triathlons and open water swimming as well as tutoring for British Triathlon. Whilst still enjoying long distance events and challenges including 12 Ironman events, end to end of Windermere and the Cabrera Island to Majorca swim of 15 miles he enjoys coaching athletes and open water swimmers, he is a level 3 Triathlon Coach and started the Scilly Swim Challenge in 2014.
“Swimming is such an energiser and brings a smile to the faces of those in the water”. I’ve met so many interesting and incredible people all willing to share the joy of this all inclusive activity”.
After spending over 30 years trying to stay out of the water whilst competing in yacht racing events both nationally and internationally, Mike decided to take the plunge and for the last 12 years has been taking part in triathlon and open water swimming events, alongside providing safety cover for the Scilly Swim Challenge.
“I am passionate about helping people to achieve beyond their realistic expectations, whilst having fun.”