Swimmers wanted for British Farallon Islands Relay

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By John Gunn

In May 2015 I led the first British team to attempt the infamous Farallon Islands Relay.

For those of you not familiar with the swim, it’s often labelled the world’s toughest marathon swim and involves swimming thirty miles through the heart of the Red Triangle, from the Farallon Islands back to San Francisco. The Farallon Islands are a notorious hunting ground for Pacific Great White Sharks and swimmers have the simple choice to attempt the swim in the warmer autumn months (during peak shark migration) or in the cooler spring months, where the chances of bumping into an apex predator are reduced but sea temperatures hover around the chilly 10c mark.

For our attempt in 2015, we decided to swim in May and as our first swimmer dived in at the stormy Farallon Islands at 3am, the water temperate peaked at 9.5c. Giving the swim our best shot (full Channel swimming rules apply), we made it a third of the way back to the mainland before one of our swimmers had to be pulled out with severe hypothermia.

The swim is truly an adventure of a lifetime and without a doubt the most extreme and exciting swim I’ve ever been involved in.

However, over the last 5 years, no British team has successfully conquered the swim. In 2022, I’ll be leading a second attempt to become the first, and I’m currently searching for six swimmers who’d be keen to join the Great British Farallon Swim team. The swim will be officially supported and sanctioned by the Farallon Islands Swimming Federation and we have a provisional swim secured for May/June 2022. With any luck water temperatures should average between 10-12c, but an ability to swim in the cold is an absolute must (You’ll likely swim three to four 1-hour shifts, given the distance).

The swim itself costs £2,600 (roughly £430 per swimmer) and travel to the US and accommodation will need to be covered by each swimmer. All in all, the swim would likely cost between £2000 - £2500 per swimmer.

During the last attempt we managed to collectively raise over £10,000 for the RNLI, a charity I’d be keen to support again.

If you’re interested in joining the team, please email me (jawgunn@yahoo.co.uk). I am London-based and swim regularly at Tooting Bec Lido.

In addition, over the next 18 months we will be looking for sponsors and partners.

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01 Cover May

Issue 49 May 2021

  • How weather can affect your swim
  • How to train for your first open water mile
  • Where to swim in the Lake District
  • How pioneer women swimmers not only took on men in the open water but also campaigned for the vote
  • Training sessions to ease you back into the pool

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