Neil Agius Breaks Longest Non-stop Ocean Swim Record

Neil Agius starts his record-breaking swim. Photo: Neil Agius/Jonathan Glynn Smith

Former Olympic 400m swimmer Neil Agius of Malta has broken the record for the longest non-stop, unassisted swim. The 35-year-old swam 125.6km from Linosa, Italy back to Malta in just over 52 hours.

Getting ready. Photo: Photo: @neilagius.official

He started stroking on June 28 and swam through two sunrises and two sunsets to arrive in Xlendi, Malta at 10pm on June 29.

He initially intended to swim 153km from Tunisia to Malta, but his crew were unable to leave Tunisia because of bad weather. So he changed his route at the last minute. Thirty-two supporting crew split among half a dozen boats kept an eye on him during his swim.

The entire swim was live-streamed and drew over two million viewers, according to Maltese sources. Agius used the publicity from the swim to highlight plastic pollution in our oceans.

Agius signals an all’s well to his crew. Photo: Photo: @neilagius.official

He swam unassisted and without a wetsuit. During the first 30km, waves hit him constantly from the front and side. Currents gradually become more favorable, and in the last 25km, his average pace picked up from 2.5kph to 3.2kph.

Australia’s Chloe McCardle set the previous world record for a current-neutral, single segment natural route in an ocean in 2014. She swam 124.4km  from South Eleuthera Island to Nassau, Bahamas in 41 hours and 21 minutes. Before Agius’s attempt, she told Times of Malta, “I really wish him the very best.” Because of his shortened route, Agius bested her distance by barely more than a kilometre.

Adding another layer of excitement to the feat, Agius’s girlfriend proposed to him just before he started. He said yes.

Photo: @neilagius.official

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About the Author

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca is a freelance writer and science teacher based in the UK.

She is a keen traveler and has been lucky enough to backpack her way around Africa, South America, and Asia. With a background in marine biology, she is interested in everything to do with the oceans and aims to dive and open-water swim in as many seas as possible.

Her areas of expertise include open water sports, marine wildlife and adventure travel.

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S R
S R
13 days ago

Wow! Incredible talent, determination, courage, endurance…
To swim non-stop for 52 hours in the open ocean is amazing.
Most people can’t even walk non-stop for 52 hours in a city park.

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Lenore Jones
Lenore Jones
13 days ago

I have a quibble: I’m curious how 32 supporters in several boats qualifies this as unsupported? What would a supported swim look like, then?

Regardless, that was an amazing swim. Congratulations to him on the swim and to both him and his fiancée on the engagement.

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Jerry Kobalenko
Admin
13 days ago
Reply to  Lenore Jones

We should have used the term “unassisted” instead of “unsupported”, as that’s the language favored by WOWSA, the World Open Water Swimming Association. That’s been corrected. Unassisted, according to WOWSA, means no wetsuit, no fins — just a swim suit, cap, goggles, and ear plugs, if desired. The support crew is there partly for safety and also to give the swimmer food and drink at regular intervals.

+1
Abigail Fairman
Abigail Fairman
10 days ago

Hi, WOWSA is not relevant to this swim. The relevant ratifying organization is the Marathon Swimmers Federation. Their definition of unassisted is here: https://marathonswimmers.org/rules/3_definitions/

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