Andy Donaldson Gibraltar Strait

Andy Donaldson sets a new British record for swimming the Gibraltar Strait

Scotsman Andy Donaldson has completed the fifth leg of his Oceans Seven challenge, setting a new British record for swimming the 14.4km Gibraltar Strait

With five swims down and two more to go, the end is nearly in sight for Scotsman Andy Donaldson who plans to be first person to swim the Oceans Seven within a year.

On Saturday 20 May, Andy completed the fifth swim of his Oceans Seven challenge – the 14.4km Gibraltar Strait between Spain and Morocco, for which he set a new British record of 2h, 56m.

Accompanied by his family members, including his father, aunt, and uncle, who cheered him on from a nearby boat, Donaldson wasted no time in his Strait of Gibraltar crossing. Taking advantage of the calm conditions and glassy waters, he maintained an impressive pace from the very start.

Despite recent reports of orcas attacking sailing boats in the strait, Donaldson encountered no issues during his swim, although whales were spotted in the vicinity.

Ideal conditions

“We had the most gorgeous weather, with unexpectedly calm conditions and zero wind,” Andy said on Instagram after his challenge. “I felt strong in the water, maintaining the pace I desired. However, as we ventured further into the channel, it became clear that breaking the record might not be within reach – we didn’t really have any tidal assistance.

“In the past, this realisation might have affected my performance, but out there it didn’t dampen my spirit.”

Andy’s previous endeavours include a challenging swim from the island of Molokai to Oahu in Hawaii, where he battled treacherous conditions for nearly 16 hours to cover over 50km. In contrast, the favourable conditions in Tarifa provided Donaldson with an opportunity to showcase his speed and expertise in the water.

With British records in the English Channel and North Channel, as well as a world record for the Cook Strait swim, Donaldson has established himself as a formidable figure in the open water swimming world.

During his Oceans Seven challenge, Andy is raising money for the Black Dog Institute, a charity that is pioneering mental health research. 

We wish him well for the final two swims of his Oceans Seven – the Catalina Channel in Los Angeles, and the Tsugaru Strait between Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan, both scheduled for July. Good luck Andy!

Read our interview with Andy about his training for the Oceans Seven.

To find out more about Andy’s Oceans Seven challenge, visit his fundraising page and follow Andy on Instagram for updates.

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Abi writes swimming news stories and features for the Outdoor Swimmer website and manages the social media channels. She loves to swim, run, hike and SUP close to her home in Herefordshire. While she’s a keen wild swimmer, Abi is new to the world of open water events and recently completed her first open water mile. She has previously written for The Guardian, BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC History Magazine and Ernest Journal.