The British Virgin Islands have been called “God’s swimming pool” and “a sailor’s paradise,” but to George “Hopper” McDonough and Tim Fitzpatrick , the B.V.I. is simply “the office.”
McDonough, who studied landscape architecture, and Fitzpatrick, who holds a degree in finance, do not operate souvenir shops or hotels in this tropical paradise. Rather, these former swim team captains guide open water swims between the islands during seven-day trips aboard the Promenade, a 65-foot trimaran sailing yacht.
Their company, SwimVacation, provides guests with the luxury of gourmet meals along with stroke and open water swimming clinics and swimming technique instruction, such as race strategy. Yet customers need not swim competitively to enjoy these trips. In fact, racing is not part of the itinerary. SwimVacation welcomes all swimmers.
“Our clients’ abilities range from first-time open water swimmer to Ironman triathlete. Our clients also include non-swimming partners who come to kayak and shop,” says McDonough.
Three trips are planned for 2009, but given the growing popularity of open water swimming, others may be scheduled. McDonough offers a variety of reasons—including this summer’s Olympic Games —for the heightened interest in the sport.
“The Olympics always gives swimming a boost, and the new open water event was a big success. Swimming is also a low-impact, lifelong event, so many boomers are either entering the sport or coming back to it. And the growing number of triathlon participants is helping.”
Whether guiding fitness enthusiasts over massive coral reefs or planning longer swims for elite swimmers, McDonough and Fitzpatrick aim to offer their clients an unforgettable experience. Thus far, they are achieving their goal. Clients have described SwimVacation trips as “THE way to vacation if you’re a swimmer or triathlete,” and “a must-do adventure for triathletes and swimmers alike.”
McDonough and Fitzpatrick are passionate about open water swimming and are eager to provide experiences to both new and returning clients. For more information, visit swimvacation.com.
—Maria V. Caliri ’86, M.B.A. ‘92