XXIV Travesia A Nado Tabarca – Santa Pola
(Tabarca to Santa Pola Open Water Swim)
as experienced by Geoff Young

The weather forecast was excellent and sea conditions Good to very Good. For the first time in many years the one element the organisers couldn’t control was offering itself up to them in a sign that this year everything was going to be good. And good it was. This year they were not going to be held hostage to the sea conditions as in other years. 1500 competitors from 19 countries and from all parts of Spain converged on Santa Pola to compete in the best Open Water course in Spain, swimming the 6000 metres from Tabarca to Santa Pola on Sunday morning 7th July.

The scale and importance of this event cannot be underestimated. Planning and preparation for this starts 9 months before the actual event with thousands of entry applications submitted to the organisers in February such is the popularity of the swim. The “lucky” 1500 are selected to participate by means of a ballot.

The first ferry to Tabarca departed Santa Pola port in darkness at 06.20 on the Sunday morning with 250 competitors on board. In the eerie glare of the artificial lighting the competitors sat. Noisy, nervous chatter could be heard from some groups but mainly people peered pensively into the dark, contemplating what was to come. For Esther from Elche this was her third Tabarca swim, whereas Pascual was swimming this for the first time. As daylight came, their attention was drawn to the course which is marked out by a series of buoys from the island to Varadero beach. Already the support craft (paddle boards, kayaks and inflatable boats) were in the sea, all on hand to support the swimmers in case they got into difficulties, which include exhaustion and jelly fish stings.


Once on Tabarca, the swimmers prepare themselves, both mentally and physically for the challenge ahead. For some it is about racing to be first, for others, getting a personal best, but for the majority it is about the prestige of finishing. Some will make the distance in under 1 hour and 30 minutes, with the last competitors arriving in Santa Pola just under 4 hours.

Alberto Esquitino Garrido was the first back to Santa Pola in 1 hour and 28 minutes, and the first female, Rebeca Santos Arriago, finished 4th overall in a time of 1 hour 36 minutes. Rebeca not only won the female section but is the current Champion of Spain and Europe at this event.


They say, “Behind every great man is a great woman”, well the same is true for this event. Behind every great event is a great organisation team, and the organisers of this event need special mention. These are not highly paid “Events Organisers”, but a dedicated group of unpaid volunteers, motivated solely on making this event one of the best in the country.


That these volunteers persevere in the face of problems is testament to their unflinching desire to make things work – for you. The Club Natacion Alone was supported by the Town Hall and a large number of sponsors to bring this event to Santa Pola. If you are interested in participating next year, registrations open in February 2020, but be warned, the maximum number of participants is limited to 1500 swimmers and is always over subscribed. The race will take place in July 2020, so please go along and support the swimmers and organisers.

Upcoming (participative) sporting events

Every year we are blessed in Gran Alacant with a number of well hosted sporting events in and around Santa Pola. Recently there was the Tabarca – Santa Pola 6000 metre swim, and now we reach that time of year to contemplate three other events in Santa Pola and Gran Alacant. Of course there are many more in the surrounding towns and cities.

Cross Popular Abel Anton, Gran Alacant
Sunday 6th October 2019 (TBC)
Start and finish in Mercadona Car Park
10km route along Avda Mediterraneo, passing into the Sierra at the top of the hill then making a circular route back to Mercadona

Registration: Not open yet.
La Gran Carrera Del Mediterraneo 20k
(The Great Race of the Mediterranean 20k)
Sunday 3rd November 2019, 10.00am.
Start in Alicante to la Cadena, Santa Pola East. 20km route from Alicante along the sea front, via Urbanova, Las Arenales, to Santa Pola East.

Registration: Euro 22.00 until 31 August
Euro 26.00 from 1st September – 27th October
Registration: www.rockthesport.com

29th Mitja Marato Internacional
Santa Pola Half Marathon
Sunday 19th January 2020, Starting 10.30
Start, Calle Fernando Perez Ojeda, (opposite The Harbour)
21.1km Route around Santa Pola

Registration: now open
Registration: www.mitjasantapola.com