Two Countries – One Event

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The Annual International Meis-Kas Swimming Competition

It may be your first time in Kas, you may have visited this lovely town before, you may have a holiday home in Kas and feel like a local…but do you know about the annual international Meis-Kas swimming competition?

I’d like to share my experience with this wonderful Festival that includes a swimming event, bridging two countries and two cultures.

Meis Island

The Kas Lycian Culture and Art Festival

The Kas Lycian Culture and Art Festival is organised annually by the Kas municipality in June and has been happening for the past 22 years.  The festival starts with a grand procession of people, including many of those who live on Kastellorizo, or Meis as the Turkish people call it. There are many events held during the festival but the food and swimming are my favourites.  The festival is more than just fun for holidaymakers. It contributes hugely to the harmony, friendship and understanding of the “same but different{“ people of Greece and Turkey, whilst also including the holiday visitors from many other countries.

Ahmet Atmaca

Two Countries & Two Cultures

The swimming competition starts from Kastellorizo harbour, Kastellorizo is a Greek island which lies 7 km off the coast of Kas. Turkish people know it as Meis, referring to its ancient name, Megisti.  The swimmers are taken to the island by boat from Kas harbour.  As then name suggests, this is an event between two countries, so normally, standard customs and visas would apply.  However, in 2018 and 2019, the Greek authorities didn’t request visas for the swimmers in the competition but participants cannot wander from the allocated area where the competition starts.  It is a beautiful little island so if you want to visit it, visas can be obtained either from the Greek Consulates or through a company, specialised in this field, and ferries run regularly between the sister towns.

So who can enter the competition?  The event is open to anyone who is between the ages of 14 and 70 + years  so it is very inclusive and multi generational. I swam this competition in 2018 and it was simply one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had!

You get a little taste of this chocolate box island as you land; the town is just like a film set with quaint houses lining the waterfront, a church at one end and the remains of a red domed Ottoman mosque at the other….no traffic, no crowds…..just peace and tranquility…..imagine!

The warm, deep blue Mediterranean waits to embrace you and the lovely town of Kas lies ahead, to reward you with welcoming arms…..so…….

To Meis Island

Let The  Waters Embrace You

Let the waters embrace you…….the competition begins and you are swimming in a different world of lukewarm water.  There is no gravity, just fresh, warm, crystal clear and then the deep blue sea.

You know what…just forget about the the race, the score, the competitors….close your eyes from time to time and feel your body gliding through the water….especially when you are half way between the two destinations. Take in the deep blue sea and the far distance peaks of the mountains and become one with nature.  You may be lucky to be joined by a caretta turtle for a few moments but don’t worry if you are not graced with their presence; you can always spot one along the coast of Kas….while having a doze on a sunbed, enjoying a cold drink or an icecream dripping down you…..this is Kas!

Meis Island from different view

Hey….having emphasised the romance of it all, let’s not forget…….you are swimming in the wild open sea, no matter how calm and pleasant it is. 7km is not for the fainthearted and you do get tired towards the end.  When I swam it, there was a light east -westwardly current which I didn’t notice until one of the safety boats stopped me with a welcome bottle of water.  Being romantic and not checking my position cost my third place in the 55 year age category!!

Who cares though….what a lovely week’s holiday in Kas that was…crowned by this amazing swimming event….definitely a case of “two birds with one stone”!

The view of Kaş & Meis
The view of Kaş & Meis from my breakfast table on the morning of the swimming contest

About Author

Ahmet Atmaca

Ahmet Atmaca

I was born, raised and lived in the busy and hectic metropolis of Istanbul. I fell in love with Mother Nature when I was a little boy and have always been fascinated by its intricate patterns and its never-ending circle of life. I see it as a luxury to be in the middle of any wilderness away from civilization. It is not always that easy to find such 'luxury' but being in the water, for me, is the closest I can get to feeling part of Mother Nature’s beautiful world. Imagine you are far out in the sea, so early in the morning, you can watch the sunrise... swimming back, diving in and out, making the most of all that is nature’s domain. Then…. at the end, treating yourself to freshly made tea and a delicious Mediterranean breakfast... what more can you ask for……..I think you have it all.

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