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A gentle swim across Europe’s largest volcanic lake

On Saturday, 14 June 2014, Kristy McIntyre, Mark Fabik and John Tierney of London’s Serpentine Swimming Club took a leisurely swim across Lago di Bolesena in Italy. John Tierney takes up the story.  

Nestled approximately halfway between Rome and Florence, there exists a lake with perhaps the softest of water you could possibly swim in; fed 80% by deep aquifers, the lake – which exceeds 130 metres deep in parts – is a jewel in the realm of anyone who enjoys open water swimming.
The three of us traversed from Capodimonte to the town of Bolsena, a distance of around 12 to 13 kilometres. Setting off at 07:30, we swam past the island of Bisentina and reached Bolsena in four hours and ten minutes. According to correct swimming etiquette when in warm water, the pace was set by the slowest swimmer, so Mark and Kristy did some sightseeing whilst we swam at my pace of about 3kms an hour. We also had some interesting chats during the feeds every hour.
The only challenge was the sunshine, which we had to fend off with Factor 50 sunblock. We were ably escorted in the 24 degree Celsius water by Matteo Fanelli who guided us well whilst we swam. Sergio, his boss, stayed onshore to be ready for any emergencies.
And if you’re interested in firsts we set some records; I was the first Irishman four days short of his birthday to do the swim, Mark was the first Englishman who cycles to work to do the swim one day before his birthday and Kristy was the first Australian swimmer from her street in New South Wales to swim the lake from end to end. Heroes all. A brilliant swim. 
John Tierney is on Twitter at: @SwimmingDragons

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.