Tue, Nov 06, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Edgley completes 157-day swim around Britain

‘IT WAS BRUTAL’:After 37 jellyfish stings and a rotting tongue, the 33-year-old completed his 2,882km journey and was welcomed by hundreds

The Guardian

Ross Edgley reacts after completing his round-Britain swim on Margate beach, England, on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

As he hobbled on to dry land for the first time in 157 days, having become the first swimmer to circumnavigate the whole of Great Britain, Ross Edgley’s first thought was not for food, a warm blanket, or a hug.

“It was so strange,” he laughed. “I was just really worried I was gonna stack it and face-plant the floor.”

Hundreds of spectators gathered at Margate harbor on Sunday morning to cheer the 33-year-old as he emerged from the sea after completing a record 2,882km swim around the mainland. Thankfully, he was not made to do a lap of honor.

“I got out of the water and thought this is gonna be amazing, I’ll run in like Baywatch,” he said shortly after completing the feat. “The reality is that I’m really chubby now, really hairy, and I had a pink tow buoy. When I made it to dry land I was just relieved I didn’t fully fall over.”

Edgley left the town in Kent, England, on June 1 and has endured 37 jellyfish stings, a rotting tongue, suspected torn shoulder and an open neck wound from chaffing that even his 3kg of Vaseline could not heal.

Having swum 12 hours a day for almost the distance of London to Moscow (2,890km), the strongman admitted feeling a bit wobbly as he was accompanied for the final kilometer by 300 fellow swimmers before being reunited with family and friends.

“I just got really choked up and had to put my goggles on because I was starting to cry. It was amazing,” he said, after a warm shower and pizza.

Edgley, from Grantham in Lincolnshire, entered the Guinness Book of World Records on Aug. 14, 74 days into the challenge, for the longest staged sea swim. However, he knew the record would only stand if he completed his journey to Margate.

Eighty-three days later, he did just that.

In his 23 weeks at sea — he slept and ate on a catamaran, along with his three-man team — the darkest moment came during a night swim in the treacherous Gulf of Corryvreckan whirlpool, off the west coast of Scotland. A giant jellyfish attached itself for 30 minutes to Edgley’s face in the middle of the world’s third-largest whirlpool:

“The sting was searing into my skin; it wrapped around my goggles. This fat, giant jellyfish of Scotland and its tentacle had been slapping me in the face for half an hour through a giant whirlpool. It was bruta,l but you couldn’t stop,” he said.

There were other dark moments, like the open wounds that “fused” to the bedsheets, but any temptation to quit or pull a sickie was quickly dismissed as any lost time would prove fatal to the challenge.

The best moment, he said, came in the Bristol channel, where he was accompanied for 8km by a female Minke whale that apparently mistook him for an injured seal.

“For all the jellyfish stings and the hardship, you get a moment like that which you’ll only ever get if you spend 12 hours swimming in the sea every day for 157 days,” he said.

“It was amazing. But it didn’t end up coming to Margate — I hope she writes to me,” Edgley said.

To fuel his bonkers feat, Edgley consumed between 10,000 and 15,000 calories each day — up to six times the male average — and wolfed down pizza, pasta, rice pudding, 610 bananas and 314 cans of Red Bull, which backed his challenge.

His mother’s homemade cheesecake was “hard to get out on the boat,” he said, and now on dry land he has a whole summer of barbecues to catch up on.

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