On 4 November, Ross Edgley completed his epic 1792-mile Great British Swim around the British Isles. Outdoor Swimmer’s Joanne Jones was there to swim the last mile with him
After 157 days at sea, adventurer Ross Edgley swam into Margate after swimming nearly 2000 miles around the British Isles. His epic circumnavigation, fuelled by 15,000 calories a day and a lot of bananas, saw him swim six hours twice a day for 157 days. The historic swim pushed Ross to the limits of what’s humanly possible and brought open water swimming to mainstream media attention. I joined 300 swimmers to swim the final mile with Ross to celebrate him becoming the first man in history to swim around mainland Great Britain.
The 300 swimmers – including 57 English Channel swimmers, eight Arctic swimmers and 20 awesome skins swimmers – embraced (with varying degrees of faffing) the 11-12 degree water.
Then Ross, who had been swimming mostly on his own for the whole journey, swam towards us.
At the pre-swim safety briefing we had been told to not touch or interfere with Ross – but when he beckoned us into a group hug – a ‘seal huddle’ if you will – the flotilla of swimmers jumped at the chance.
For Ross, having a flotilla of swimmers come to meet him exemplified what the outdoor swimming community is all about: “Open water swimming attracts the most amazing people. If I was to say to anyone – ‘Do you want to get up, travel from wherever you did, and swim in the cold sea – in November – and swim a final mile with someone you’ve never met before?’ – it’s the outdoor swimming community who go ‘yeah!’ and everyone who swam that final mile were legends in their own right. It takes a certain sort of person to come and join in and be in the water.”
Back on land, he ran to the beach – testing his land legs to the full, which he regretted slightly as he nearly “stacked it in front of all the people and the media”. I ask Ross what he is most looking forward to now he doesn’t have to swim 12 hours a day. For him, it is all about being warm and dry: “Swimming, especially in harsh conditions, strips you – it’s warmth, and being dry and not having to worry about sea ulcers anymore.”
As Ross readjusts to life on dry land, we salute his epic achievement and the team around him who made it possible for him push the boundaries of our sport and inspire so many swimmers and non-swimmers around the world. After 157 days of swim training, we can’t wait to see what his next challenge is!
Has Ross inspired you to take on a swimming challenge? Let us know – email firstname.lastname@example.org
This is an edited version of a full-length article that will appear in the December issue of Outdoor Swimmer magazine. Subscribe now to get your first three issues for just £5!