Jasmine Harrison Swims the Length of Britain

Jasmine Harrison has become the first woman to swim the length of Britain. Over three-and-half months, the 23-year-old swam 1,448km from Lands End to John O’Groats. Though the route is very popular among runners and cyclists, she is only the third person ever to swim the route. 

Harrison started on July 1. She followed the west coastline of Britain and swam approximately two kilometres offshore during the challenge. Her daily distance depended on the current and waves. She was in the water for 4 to 12 hours each day but often split this into two shifts. The furthest she covered done one shift was 26km, and the furthest in a single day was an impressive 50km.

Throughout the journey, a safety kayak and support boat followed her. 

During her time in the water, she had to swim past sharks, through swarms of jellyfish, and across busy shipping lanes. Her full wetsuit helped protect her against jellyfish stings, though of course, her face and hands were exposed. They endured multiple stings until eventually, she began wearing gloves and a hood, which also helped against the cold water.

More than once, she had to stop swimming because of the number of jellyfish in the water. Her support team was most worried during the last 130km of the swim because of the presence of orcas, although orcas — certain recent instances with boats notwithstanding — almost never bother people.

Jasmine Harrison reaches John O'Groats

Jasmine Harrison reaches John O’Groats. Photo: @jasminerharrison


As summer ticked into fall, the weather worsened. She began in a heat wave and ended with strong winds and cool temperatures. This forced her to stay on the boat for days to wait out the winds. She also became colder sooner in the water.

“With the rain, nothing dries and my wetsuit is always wet, and I get cold immediately,” she told The Northern Times. “You struggle to stay in the water for six hours when you are cold.

Her time in the seawater also led to ‘salt mouth’, a condition often endured by ocean swimmers. Salt builds up on the tongue, mouth, and throat. It can make swallowing almost impossible and strips the skin from the throat and mouth. Her wetsuit also caused chafing, despite the lubricant she used. This caused a number of painful blisters. 

Jasmine Harrison swims alongside her support boat

Photo: @jasminerharrison


This is not Harrison’s first long-distance effort. In 2021, she became the youngest person to row alone across the Atlantic in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Rebecca McPhee

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.