Updated: Dec 30, 2019
A man has swum the entirety of the British Isles, clocking up a distance of 2,883km. Ross Edgley a fitness expert, founder of The Protein Works nutrition company and author of The World's Fittest Book completed his latest challenge on November 4, 2018 in 157 days.
Along the way, as well as surviving freezing, shark infested waters he picked up a handful of World records, including ‘First person to swim the entire South Coast’ in just 30 days, the ‘World’s longest staged sea swim’ at 157 days and ‘Land’s End to John O’Groats’ in 62 days, taking the title from friend Sean Conway, achieved in 135 days, 2013.
Ross from Cheshire, England has always been passionately engaged with Sport. As a keen swimmer at the age of 14 he began a career in water polo, later joining the British team to compete in the championships. However, his water polo career was short lived (pun intended) as he tells Red Bull “I used to play water polo and swim for Great Britain but I’m built like a hobbit! I’m 5ft10 on a good day so my coach was like: "Look Ross, unless you grow another foot you’re not going to the Olympics" – which was fair enough! I started weight training...”
Since then, Ross has battled hell and high waters, seeking out extraordinary challenges in a journey towards personal excellence, as well as raising funds for various charities and setting an example for us all. He has climbed 8,848m up and down and up again, a rope the height of Mount Everest in under 24 hours, continuously scaling up and down the same rope until the distance was reached, blistering! #WorldsLongestRopeClimb He has run a marathon...with a Mini Countryman weighing 1,400kg strapped to his back, which required expert advice “I was lucky enough to train with Geoff Capes, former World’s Strongest Man, Linford Christie, 100m Olympic champion, and Andy Bolton – the first human to ever deadlift 1000 pounds.” But these challenges were not without their...challenges.
"It's the equivalent of swimming the English Channel every day” - Ross on his impending swim.
During his circuit of the British Isles Ross had to stay motivated during an average swimming session of 12 hours everyday. The physical endurance alone would be enough to shatter the strongest of wills, but there were added ‘complications.’
Ross’s tongue began to fall out, due to a condition known as ‘salt mouth’ where the constant exposure to saline water began decomposing the soft tissue. He was barely able to eat or drink during his rest periods as chunks of his tongue fell away. His wetsuit began chaffing the back of his neck, creating an open sore in salty water, you can only imagine the searing pain. When we picture the open sea, we usually think of vast expanses of open blue, Ross however, came up against ‘sea mist’ which is the same as ordinary mist...but at sea. However, when swimming in the open sea you rely on distant objects or some kind of marker to help with orientation. Sea mist can cause dizziness as well as a lack of direction as it tricks the body into a senseless stupor. This can make you even more vulnerable than you care to be, especially when under the potential threat of shark attacks. Yes, shark attacks. In 2017, shark expert Graeme Pullen claimed he was tracking a great white shark in British waters. "Make no mistake, this is the big one," he told The Mirror. "The danger is that this shark will stumble across someone in a wetsuit and mistake them for a seal." Although it was far more likely he would get a face full of jelly fish “giant jellyfish are a particular worry. I won’t shave. Because you’re leading with the head and the face will be most exposed, any protection, like a big beard, will help.” Great advice for any would be adventurers, grow a beard.
Ross is now taking a little time to rest and catch up with his family over Christmas, before his next big challenge. He hopes the experience has encouraged others to take an approach to their fitness "All going well, my challenge encourages people to do what they love and let Mother Nature take care of your physiology. It’s about being fit for purpose. From an aesthetic perceptive, at the end of the race will my body get on the front of a fitness magazine? Probably not, but will it be a body that will help you swim around Great Britain? I hope so."
You can follow Ross’s adventure with his weekly internet series ‘Ross Edgley’s Great British Swim’
And if you’re looking for a challenge in 2019, why not join the Bulldog crew as we set sail down the Zaragoza Imperial Canal