I was at the cabin of friends when I waded into the water, slapped on my goggles and swam across the lake and back.

The water glowed a deep green as the sun's rays angled through the surface. It felt freeing to keep moving forward, no swim lane to follow. Halfway across, I paused to look straight down. It was a sea of darkness. I was glad my friend had agreed to paddle her bright kayak beside me.

The whole outing took less than an hour, but it felt like good, invigorating excuse to grab a second helping at dinner.

I didn't know it at the time, but anyone can have such a getaway, if not at my friends' cabin. Increasing numbers of travel companies are offering a new kind of adventure devoted to wild, open-water swimming. Consider it full-immersion vacationing.

Some trips are for novice enthusiasts looking for a refreshing way to see a place.

Hop into aqua waters off a Greek island, swim a while and enjoy a traditional lunch at a taverna. This is the specialty of Big Blue Swim, a company that brings swimmers of varying abilities to Crete, Santorini and other Greek locales. The trips are a balance of relaxation, exploration and swimming (thebigblueswim.com).

Others are devoted to hard-core swimmers who hope to gain speed and endurance by open-water swimming, with instruction thrown in.

Swimquest, a United Kingdom company, has trips with medal-winning swimmers who can analyze a swim stroke and offer ways to improve efficiency with pool and open-water swims. One location is Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands. It also offers "beginners and improvers" trips (swimquest.uk.com).

SwimTrek hosts trips to a range of locations, from Belize to Croatia, and some have short swims, clocking as little as 1.8 miles a day (swimtrek.com).

Swim Vacations, a U.S. company, brings swimmers to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Kona, Hawaii and the Bahamas.

From a Minnesota lake to the Caribbean Sea: I'm ready.

Contact Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com.