I met Dan Martin in the Lake District last month where I commandeered a motorboat and shipped kit to an island that he swam to and where we cooked up a feast on an open fire and camped out like a real old-fashioned adventure.
OK, that’s not strictly true.
I think the first time we met was actually in a cheap Chinese restaurant outside South Ken Tube but that’s not a very exciting introduction. Dan’s website says that he is an “extreme athlete” and if you take two seconds to see what he’s planning then I think you’d be forced to agree.
I’m hosting the post below, kindly written by Dan, as part of the Adventurer’s Blogging Chain.
Swimming is the future of adventure. We’re running out of peaks to be climbed, running out of ways to get to the poles, running out of ways to cycle/sail around the world and running out of oceans left to row. Swimming is the untapped future.
Outdoor swimming is taking off around the world thanks mainly to the popularisation of triathlons and Ironman races. Marathon swimming is booming with more and more people attempting to swim the English Channel every year. More and more swimmers are getting back into open water and its great news for all of us.
I did my first ever open water swim at the beginning of May last year and am now addicted! It’s the rush as the cold hits you, the delight as you realise you’re alive and the way the world looks from a fish eyed view!
I think with the increase in popularity of open water swimming we’ll find more people trying to push the barriers of swimming. 25 years ago marathon running was thought to be only for the super fit, now thousands run marathons each year and some run further-across the Sahara, across America, around the world! In the public eye there is Martin Strel and Lewis Pugh achieving amazing things in swimming but behind the scenes there are hundreds of swimmers opening up new routes and channels and swimming further and in colder water than ever before. The mental barriers for long distance swimming are being broken down and swimming oceans is now possible. I will set off next year from the United States and swim across the Atlantic wearing only my trunks, goggles and a swim cap. I’ll swim in stages of about three hours and it’ll take between four and six months. There are a lot of unknowns with this kind of swimming but no more than when people first started heading south to the pole or up Everest or when we first put a man on the moon.
In more mainstream expeditions it’s now almost impossible to get to the North Pole without swimming across some stretches of water. The video below is of Mike Horn and Bourge Ousland walking to the North Pole in winter and having to swim stretches:
The only barriers that long distance swimming has are mental. I think the Pacific will be swum soon, I was sad to hear that Todd Cameron and Rob Hutchings’ Great Barrier Reef swim had to be cancelled due to finances. Lynn Cox swam a mile to Antarctica; Lewis Pugh swam a kilometre at the North Pole and on Mount Everest. Penny Palfrey had to pull out of a 72mile swim between Oahu to Kauai in Hawaii due to being stung by a Portuguese Man-O-War but was on course to make it. I think we’ll see the emergence of self supported longer swims towing a small pod with navigational equipment, locator beacon, food, water and room to sleep. Jon Bradshaw was looking into this for his Atlantic swim but at the moment it looks unfeasible. I’d say it would be possible with fins and a wetsuit but without that added propulsion then you’d struggle to make progress. Obviously swimming will never take the mantle of climbing or hiking but the 21st century is the time for swimming to the limits!
I’ve been fortunate enough to swim with a few of Britain and Ireland’s finest adventurers and the video at the top of the page was the result. It may not be an exhibition of the finest swimming but they all gave it a go! Well done Dan Richardson, Simon and Fearghal, Al Humphreys, Helen Lloyd and Tim Moss. The name and shame list includes Rob Lilwall, Sarah Outen and Mark Kalch-all of whom have turned down the opportunity for swims!
This article is written as part of the Adventurer’s Blogging Chain – a communal movement of like-minded people writing stuff for each other’s websites.
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