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 hygeiene qualification. In addition, they are inspirational, talented swim coaches – and are always happy ot 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 new Open Water Swim Coaching qualification.
In 2013, Alice had an ‘early life crisis’. Having spent six 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, 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.”
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.”
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. In 2017 decided to swim Lake Annecy (15km), backstroke!
“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!”
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.”
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 11 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 also 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.”
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!
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!”
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”.
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?!
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!”
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.”