Ross Wisby has set a new record for the fastest circumnavigation of the island of Jersey. His new time of 9 hours 26 minutes 5 seconds beat the previous record, set by Michelle Macy from the US in 2014, by three minutes. The previous men’s record of 9hrs 35m was set in 2013 by Owen O’Keefe from Ireland.
Wisby, who is Open Water Swimming Manager for the Royal Air Force and whose swimming CV includes theBritish 10km Open Water Swimming Championships and Lake Zurich, set the new record on 19 August for the 45-mile tide-assisted swim, despite sea conditions described by the Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club (JLDSC) as “less than perfect.”
Wisby was accompanied by the JLDSC club boat Sea Swimmer 2, piloted by Charlie Gravett, and observed by Jenny Fitzgerald and Alice Harvey. His fiancé Selina Burgess provided support, feeding Ross every half hour with a concoction of Hi 5 energy drinks or gels. “The only thing that got me through the swim was my support team who never gave up in there belief that I would get the record,” he said.
“Ross started like a greyhound out of the trap, with a stroke rate of 53spm,” said pilot Gravett. “He sped through the first checkpoint in 45 minutes compared to the normal hour. Again at the point where currents meet and we need to be there before the tides change, he cruised through in 1.30, normally 2 to 2.5.”
But despite his speed, the tides and wind made conditions hard-going.
“The north coast was problematic when tide opposed a Force 4 westerly wind,” said Gravett. “But he battled through, suffering a few jelly fish nips on the way.
“The last hour of my swim felt like a sprint the whole way,” said Ross. “At my last feed I was told that I was back on track to equal the record but that it would come down to a few seconds either side. The last 50m were the longest of my life and I gave it everything I had as I knew that if I didn’t I might miss out on the record by seconds. As I touched the wall I had no energy left in my body, I just rolled over onto my back and lay there for about a minute while I gathered the energy to swim back to the boat to climb out. I could hear my support team cheering so knew I had got the record but didn’t find out how much I had beaten it by until I was out on the boat.”
After the swim Ross celebrated with a pint of beer. “My aim now is to break into the World Grand Prix series. I am also looking at completing the Manhattan Island Marathon swim as I entered this event three years ago but was told I did not have enough experience to enter.”
Ross also holds the record for the fastest relay round the island, a record he is hoping to better when his RAF team returns to Jersey to take part in the Inter-Service Round-Jersey Relay Race in mid-September.
“It would be great if we could break the record again,” said Ross, “but looking at the Army team I think they might just take it this year.”