Swimmer's 150 Mile Islands Challenge

27 June 2013, 06:46

Endurance swimmer Anna Wardley, from Gosport, completes stage three - swimming 41 miles around Jersey in under 12 hours.

The 37-year-old, who lives in Gosport, set off in unseasonably cold waters at 07.01 on Wednesday 26 June and completed the swim in a time of 11 hours, 53 minutes and five seconds.

Last year she ticked off the first two of the five islands on her list: Dragonera off the coast of Mallorca (10km, 6.2 miles) and Portsea Island (21km, 13 miles). Hers was the first swim around Portsea to be officially ratified by the British Long Distance Swimming Association (BLDSA).

The circumnavigation of Jersey was considerably more demanding, taking almost twice as long as her last island swim, and in unseasonably cold sea temperatures. The thermometer read just 13.9 degrees when she entered the water. In accordance with the rules set out by the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation she wore just a swim suit, one hat and a pair of goggles.

Anna's support team for the round-Jersey attempt was complemented by experienced local pilot, Charlie Gravett, who helped her negotiate the strong currents around the island. There was a very tense period ten hours into the swim as Anna approached the Corbiere lighthouse and the final turning point before the home strait.

As the tide started to come in there was a danger she would not make the turn in time and would have to abandon her attempt. But Anna chose instead to miss a feeding stop and picked up the pace to beat the tide. From there she powered towards the finish line, beating her own target of 12 hours.

Arriving at the finish line at Elizabeth Castle breakwater off St Helier, Anna said: "I feel amazing. When I'm training and during the swims when it's really hard to keep going, this massive feeling of achievement is what drives me on.

"I want to say thank you for all the tweets and messages of support that were being posted, and seeing the supporters at Corbiere Lighthouse, when I was really up against it and there was a risk that I might get beaten by the tide, was a brilliant lift and gave me a real boost. Knowing I have that ability to turn on the speed when I need to has built my confidence for the Isle of Wight in September. Three down, two more to go; Next stop: Tiree."

Her training schedule this year has seen her spend five weeks in Mallorca, culminating in a 12 hour 24 minute crossing of the 27km (16 miles) Cabrera Channel from the island of Cabrera to Sa Rapita in Mallorca. Swimming through jellyfish infested waters she became the first woman to achieve the feat, it was the first ratified non-wetsuit Cabrera Channel crossing to Sa Rapita and the earliest ever swim in the season.

Never one to back down from a challenge, in August Anna will go for another world first when she takes on her fourth island, attempting to become the first person to swim around the Isle of Tiree, the most westerly island of the Inner Hebrides off Scotland's west coast. Because of the outlying reefs and strong currents, Anna will swim approximately 30 miles (48km) in frigid temperatures, again without a wetsuit, as she makes her bid to get into the record books.

In mid-September she will attempt her most physically and mentally demanding swim ever: 60 miles (97km) around the Isle of Wight. This solo swim has been completed by just three people and is the equivalent of swimming back and forth three times across the English Channel. It is expected to take approximately 30 hours.

Anna is raising funds for the Samaritans, Sail Africa and the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust through her Five Island Swim Challenge. To date she has raised £40,000 through her swimming challenges since taking up the sport six years ago, and has set a target of raising £50,000. Click here to find out more.

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