How I Started Open Water Swimming

How I Started Open Water Swimming

My swimming journey began in the pool and continued in the sea. My passion for open water swimming started in a paradise on Earth. My family purchased a summer house in Datça, a town located in the southwestern province of Muğla, Turkey, between the famous holiday resorts of Bodrum and Marmaris. We spent our summers there, and I took the opportunity to discover my true passion in the water.

Datça is my favorite place in the world... It's a place where I feel peace and connected with nature, where I can hear my inner voice. Datça is where I started open water swimming 20 years ago. It's also where I began practicing meditation and pushing myself out of my comfort zone, both physically and mentally. It's difficult to explain how this place has given me a natural power.

Datça has the most beautiful climate in Turkey, filled with tranquility and natural beauty. The thin and long Datça peninsula, stretching for 50 miles, is like a pure green dagger where the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas meet. The ancient Greeks believed that Datça was created by Zeus himself with its magnificent rocky surfaces and emerald green waters. Geographer Strabo has been quoted saying, "God sent his beloved creatures to Datça to live longer." We would go there every summer, and all the extended family members would gather there. I come from a large family, and we all have wonderful memories of this paradise on Earth.

My family, just like me, loves nature and sports. Our days would start at 7 am with a beautiful 10-kilometer nature hike in the mountains. On this route, you can see the Mediterranean Sea on the left and the Aegean Sea on the right. The breathtaking views and the scent of thyme, sage, and jasmine flowers make the experience even more special.

After our nature hike, we would reward ourselves with fresh watermelon and figs from our farm. And then what would come next? Of course, before the family breakfast, we would spend as much time as possible swimming in the sea.

I can confidently say that Datça has the most beautiful seawater in the world. The temperature is around 22 degrees Celsius during summers, slightly cooler than other places in the region. The water is clean, and there is no dangerous marine wildlife. The sea, especially in the afternoons, has strong waves that allow you to feel the power of nature through the strong currents and waves.

After our morning nature hike, I would swim in the afternoon, usually on my favorite little island, after sunbathing. I would swim approximately eight kilometers in total every day. Five kilometers in the morning and three kilometers in the afternoon.

I started to enjoy the different moods of the water, whether it was calm or wavy, in the mornings and afternoons. Waves and currents would bring me joy, and I would feel the natural power and freedom in the water. The expression of the sea was incredible. It was a completely different feeling compared to the pool. I realized that open water was my true passion. I always wanted to go further while in the water. Even when I swam alone to the deepest part of a bay where the bottom couldn't be seen, I never felt any fear. I felt like I belonged to the sea, and the sea belonged to me. I feel the connection between my body, soul, and mind with the endless ocean. I love everything about the sea—the color, the salty taste, the sensation of the waves. It's like an infinite relationship between me and the sea. An infinite and unconditional love. It's a true love that I feel with my entire being.

Sometimes wavy, sometimes calm, sometimes unpredictable.

My vacation in Datça was like a sports camp for me. Besides swimming, I ran on the beach, hiked in the mountains, and did some strength and conditioning exercises. I thought about using the momentum I gained here to participate in national and international open water races.

Open water swimming is completely different from pool swimming. First of all, all pools are more or less the same: the distance is 25 or 50 meters. The temperature ranges from 24 to 28 degrees. There are no waves or surprises during your race. And of course, you need to be very good at flip turns.

Of course, you don't need to do flip turns in open water swimming. But there are even bigger differences between the two: in open water, two swims done at different times of the day on the same route won't be alike. Currents, waves, weather, wind, and water temperature all play a role. And if you are swimming for more than 5 kilometers, eating and drinking during the swim will be very important. Datça gave me the strength and experience to overcome all these uncertainties in the water and the courage to participate in open water races.


Think and find your true passion. It's okay if you don't know it today. Keep searching and exploring until you feel it. Your inner voice will tell you what you enjoy and what truly makes you happy.

Don't be upset if you can't find your passion right away. There are many new activities you can discover, and when you experience the flow, enjoy the time, feel the inner motivation to continue, and feel renewed and happy, you will know that you have found your passion.

Find your favorite place in life. A place where you feel comfortable and rejuvenated. This will relax you and enable you to rejuvenate yourself for other challenges that come your way.

Take time to connect with nature and yourself and pursue your passion. Breathe, think, and don't rush. There's nothing wrong with taking time for yourself and your thought process. You don't always have to be on the move. Take time to relax in nature, feel what's happening, and do what truly feels good for you.

Deniz Kayadelen

Continue reading: Out of Comfort Zone

Out of Comfort Zone - Ceres Shop (ceresdukkan.com)