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Six Scilly Swimmers Challenge

Facebook post Mark Ransom (20021-09-18). View the original post to see the pictures!

A few days ago our attempt at a six person relay swim to the Isles of Scilly was almost called off due to stormy weather travelling across the Atlantic and threatening to put a stop to our plans of achieving a world first open water swim. Luckily as the days passed, the forecast started to change for the better and before we knew it we were down in Penzance awaiting the biggest challenge of our lives.

Our escort boat Celtic Fox took us to the start line near Nanjizal beach where our first swimmer Sam swum to the rocky cliff face where she began our 28 mile journey out of the English Channel and into the Atlantic Ocean. The sea conditions were almost perfect as the second swimmer Rich powered through the water but we were well aware that may well change as we headed out to sea. The swell on the other hand was simply huge! It looked so majestic but felt like we were swimming over a small mountain range. We were not far out when we had a fly pass by the coastguard helicopter who even returned six hours later for a second time and we were thrilled that Cathy was in the water at the time being a Winch Paramedic herself and our team Captain.

As we began our second swims, conditions took a turn for the worst and became quite brutal, with waves constantly hitting us in the face, making it difficult to get into a good rhythm and breathe. Mark, George and Megan showing real grit at this stage. We all agreed that this section also felt particularly cold and this really hit us once we were back on the boat. Nausea and vomiting was also an issue for some of the team but this is something we expect.

The wildlife mainly consisted of copious amounts of various types of jellyfish. The majority of them were below us but we also swum into many and some of the team received a ‘kiss’ from them - luckily nothing too painful or serious on this occasion. We also had the privilege of being joined by dolphins on about three occasions which was a real treat.

On relay swims it’s not all about the swimming but also about how the team cope on the boat between swims. This is where team work is absolutely essential and everyone has a duty to look after their fellow team mates. Nausea and vomiting were an issue for some of the team and the effects of the cold were particularly difficult to recover from as well.

Night fell and we continued ploughing our way across the ocean with tides like we had never experienced before. On occasion we were swimming directly against the tide but we kept making progress and gradually chipped away at the miles.

Eventually Cathy jumped in for her third swim and we were hoping she could make the finish. As the hour passed it was uncertain if she had made enough headway against the strong tide and so Sam had to prepare to go in for a fourth time. However, Cathy pushed really hard and soon the cliffs of the Scilly Isles were in the spotlight ahead. The boat stopped and Cathy went alone, swimming into the dark night with only our lights to guide her way. Cathy reached the cliff and putting her hand in the air marked the end of our swim and the job was done! 17 hours 59 mins and 29 secs.

This swim has never been done before in ‘skins’ and we had two official observers with us to ratify it and it is now a new world record.

Six Scilly Swimmers would like to thank our observers Kate and Neil and also our pilot Mark and his team on Celtic Fox. Also a huge thank you to everyone who has supported and sponsored our challenge.

Six Scilly Swimmers are: Sam Jones, Richard Pearce, Mark Ransom, George Maguire, Megan Sanders, Cathy Freeman-Brown (Captain).

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