From Fiji to Belize, and the Maldives to the Lake District, Swimtrek lead the charge when it comes to providing premium, guided adventure swim holidays. They take care of everything for their customers on the trip: their food, accommodation, the route planning and of course their safety. Over the past year or so, Swimtrek have been using our Red Rescue boards as part of that safety provision.

Swimtrek are now on a journey to protect the amazing waterways their trips rely upon and are on the road to achieve B Corp status to recognise those efforts. In 2023 we worked with them as part of that process. Utilising some EU funding Swimtrek wanted to reduce the usage of the gas-guzzling safety boats and decrease tehir carbon foot print.

We worked with Reggie at Swimtrek to add an electric engine to their Rescue SUPs. Earlier on this year we caught up with Reggie to find out how this tied in with the rest of their B Corp plans and to see how it went.

open water swimming group in Maldives

Hi Reggie. Let’s start off with Swimtrek. Who are you and what do you do?

For 20 years we’ve been travelling near and far to take people on adventurous swimming holidays and providing people with the chance to experience the worlds waters in a safe, encouraging and supportive environment.

How long have you been involved in the company, what’s your role and your favourite swim destination?

I’ve been here for 7 years helping scale the business to provide the opportunity to more people in more locations each year. I’m the Head of Operations and Sustainability, in practice this means recruiting, training and supporting an international team of swim guides to deliver incredible experiences in a safe way that’s respectful of the communities and environments that we’re fortunate enough to visit. So, whilst I’m in the office supporting our overseas teams, it’s really our huge staff of international guides and suppliers on the ground that are doing the hard work.

In terms of my fav swim spot, my normal go to answer is ‘the next place’. That being said, last year I was fortunate enough to go to our Baja Peninsula trip in Mexico. Set on a remote island in a beautiful national park, sleeping in a private camp with a close-knit crew and working with a great local supplier Red Travel, who actively support the local community, was an amazing experience. Exciting swims, beautiful scenery and sea lions peeking around the swimming corner – amazing trip

We got our B Corp qualification last year and Swimtrek is now well on that road. What is it that drives Swimtrek to join the B Corp network?

Just a better way of doing business really. Joining the B Corp network is a journey. It forces an organisation to look in the mirror and ask tough questions about how it operates, then make decisions on how to improve.

Aside from the obvious moral improvements from working through the B Corp process in addressing your flaws, your organisation becomes more resilient. More resilient for your workforce and retaining staff, more resilient to manage economic shocks, and more resilient in general.

B Corp as a process aims for responsible long-term goals over short term aims.

Talk us through how the project with our rescue boards came about and what the aim of that project has been?

I was applying for an EU grant before BREXIT was completed, so I was coming up against a deadline for the grant funding. The grant was called LOCASE and it was through the innovate UK platform. Our grant proposal had to be innovative enough in the sector to pass through innovate UK’s scrutiny and prove that the proposed ‘change’ would bring about both environmental and business benefits.

One of both the necessities and challenges we have across our locations is the small boats that we operate. These themselves are a vital safety component in providing support to our swimmers, but at the same time produce harmful emissions and can at times be a risk themselves.

All our team of international swim guides are trained lifeguards and boat pilots, experienced in supporting small groups of swimmers in a variety of conditions. I looked at supplementing some of our locations with Red Rescues SUPs. Our swimmers swim for anything between 3-10km a day.

SwimTrek partnered with Red Rescue to add an additional fin mount to their inflatable rescue stand up paddle boards and prone boards. We then proposed the addition of portable Scuba Jet Pro units to supplement the SUP boards, creating a vessel that could support our long-distance swimmers in a close quarters rescue environment. These combined units can then be taken to our global swimming locations to support the equipment already stationed there. The aim is to reduce a number of concerns, such as spinning propellor’s, petrol fumes and pollution, noise reduction and allowing guides to provide closer support.

The idea was that the majority of the time guides would be able to provide close quarter safety support from an elevated position on the SUP, then if necessary, they could use the electric motor, for example if going long distance, into wind, or in the event of an emergency or casualty evacuation.

We chose to supplement our boats instead of replacing them as a trial for 2023 and to give the guides the personal choice over which support craft to use depending on the swimmers and conditions on any given day.

How did the project go in it’s first year, what were the wins and how do you hope to build on them?

This requires change of habit which in itself can be a challenge. As with any innovation there have been complications. The nature of many of our locations is such that sea states may dictate more powerful craft are needed to support our swims. In response to this, we are sending these SUP and electric motor units to locations as an addition to our guides safety equipment. In this way, the guides can choose on any given day or swim what safety craft should be used to best support the swims.

In our trials in 2023 on our Milos and Greek Cyclades trip we found our guides chose to use these units in replacement of the petrol engine safety boats 2-4 times a week (depending on the conditions of each swim). As a result, we have provided the guides the decision making and tools on the ground to remove (where possible and suitable) the use of petrol boats on these trips. In this way we were able to reduce the use of 1 of our petrol RIBs on 20-40% of the trip. Again, small changes such as this innovative and adaptive solution to swim support won’t do everything – it won’t make the global change we need, but it’s doing something, and we’re committed to doing more.

Aside from the aim to reduce the carbon cost of your safety cover, how have the boards performed for you in the real sense of managing the safety of your swim groups?

The boards have been great. For us in travelling to and from various locations being able to pack the boards down and back together has been great. At the same time some of our locations have guests swimming very close around beautiful coastlines and into caves where boat access is limited or not recommended due to the propellor hazard. In these circumstances the boards were much better to provide swim support in a closer safer manner.

We’ll be sending them out to more locations throughout this year to continue to monitor the take up, but we’re pleased with the result so far.

And finally, where should people go to find out more about Swimtrek and your global adventure swim holidays?

Our website is the best place to find out about our trips and events, or our instagram page (@swimtrek) can give you a realtime experience of life on our trips.

You can find out more about our environmental and sustainability ambitions