A Roundup of Long-Distance Swims in the UK for Summer 2022

From a woman swimming the length of the UK to the first crossing from England to the Isle of Man, here are some marathon swims of note this summer.

Jasmine Harrison: The length of the UK

Jasmine Harrison is embarking on a three-month challenge. The 22-year-old wants to swim 1,448km from Land’s End to John O’Groats this summer. The route is popular with runners, hikers, and cyclists, but very rare in the swimming world. Only two people have completed the swim before, both men.

In 2021, Harrison became the youngest person to solo row across the Atlantic in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. She is an even better swimmer. She only picked up rowing for that one ocean crossing.

Jasmine Harrison. Photo: @rudderlymad

 

She will swim up the west side of the UK, where there is less traffic. This will also take her with the waves rather than against them. She will stay 1.5km offshore for up to 12 hours a day during her swim. However, she will swim in six-hour blocks to go with the tide.

Adam Diver: Swimming to the Isle of Man

On July 22, Adam Diver will try to become the first person to swim from England to the Isle of Man. Diver, 45, is an experienced triathlete who represented Great Britain at the 2021 Europe Triathlon Championship. Though he has been swimming for many years, he has gradually increased his open water distance so that he can tackle the 51km crossing. He came up with the idea with his son during lockdown when they were coming up with ways to visit his parents on the Isle of Man.

He had to plan the timing of this swim to the hour. The tide tables suggested that July 22 would be the best possible day. “There is a neap tide,” he told the BBC, “so it will be lower and the current will not be as strong.”

The Irish Sea is notoriously choppy because the tides are very strong. Diver plans to swim in a six-hour on, six-hour off pattern because of these tides. Unlike those who do the English Channel, Diver will wear a wetsuit.

Adam Diver. Photo: Twitter/@AdamDiver2

Greg Whyte: The length of the Upper Thames 

On July 11, Greg Whyte will swim the 218km length of the Upper Thames. He hopes to finish in four days.

Whyte is a former Olympic pentathlete who represented Great Britain in the 1992 Barcelona Games and the European and World Championships. Since then, he has completed the Marathon des Sables, The Race Across America. He has also swum the Channel, the Gibraltar Straits, and the Bosphorous.

Currently, he is a professor of human performance and exercise physiology who has trained many students for their long-distance challenges. Now he’s doing his own again.

Greg Whyte. Photo: @profgregw

Lee Spencer: Triathlon of Great Britain

Lee Spencer’s summer triathlon starts with a swim across the English Channel. Next, the former Marine will cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Finally, Spencer will climb the three highest peaks in the UK. During this last stage, he will walk a marathon over Ben Nevis and finish at the Commando Memorial in Spean Bridge.

Lee was in the Marines for 24 years. In 2014, he stopped to help at a car accident and was hit by another vehicle. He lost his lower right leg.

Lee Spencer. Photo: @leespencer_rm

 

Sally Minty-Gravett: Swimming the Channel in six consecutive decades

Sally Minty-Gravett is an open-water swimming legend. Now 65, she has been in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame since 2005. Raised on the small island of Jersey, she was swimming before she could walk.

“I’ve always felt more at home in the water than on land…I realized early on that sea swimming was my passion,” she said in a recent interview.

Minty-Gravett has swum the Channel six times as a single crossing and once as a double crossing. She holds the record for the oldest person to complete a double Channel crossing, at the age of 59. That year, she received an MBE for her services to swimming.

Sally Minty-Gravett. Photo: marathonswimstories.com

 

She first swam the Channel in 1975 at the age of 18. It wasn’t easy. The fog was so thick that she could barely see a metre ahead. Since then, she has crossed the Channel in 1985, 1992, 2005, and 2013.

This summer, she will attempt the fabled crossing for the seventh time. She considers this her retirement swim and is dedicating it to her late husband and kindred long-distance swimmer, who passed away in 2020.

Rebecca McPhee is a freelance writer for ExplorersWeb.

Rebecca has been writing about open water sports, adventure travel, and marine science for three years. Prior to that, Rebecca worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, and a Wildlife Officer for ORCA.

Based in the UK Rebecca is a science teacher and volunteers for a number of marine charities. She enjoys open water swimming, hiking, diving, and traveling.

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