After 157 days at sea and 1,792 miles of swimming, 33-year old Ross Edgley today became the first person to swim around the UK coast — breaking several world records into the bargain — and 220 were there to share the moment with him.
220 Editor Helen Webster joined Ross as part a group of 300 swimmers for the final swim into Margate. Image: 220/Gavin Parish
220: Has that sense of community been important in this challenge?
It was never my moment and it was never an individual sport. From the outset this was a team effort. For example with the salt tongue, my tongue was literally falling apart and the community of open-water swimmers and triathletes helped with advice and help! It was really nice getting that support – they’d say “oh wetsuit chafing, here’s what I’d do”, or “your tongue is falling apart? Here’s a homemade remedy”.
220: How are you feeling now you’ve completed the swim and are back on dry land?
I like to talk and it’s nice to see people! I’ve had the company of minke whales and dolphins and they don’t talk much! I met one lady today who was going to swim the channel but she’s been diagnosed with cancer, so is going to get treatment and try again next year – hearing stories like that is just amazing.
When you do something like this it brings people together, just the crazy nature of it. I don’t know why! It just brings the very best people together. There’s one person that came all the way from America! We asked him if he had any family in Margate, but he was like: “nope. I’m just here for the swim!” He came from America and is flying home tonight, that’s just amazing. I had to be pulled away from him, I would still be there with him and with everyone else taking selfies!
220: What else helped you get through the swim?
The team too, for sure. Me and Matt got quite choked up last night. The sense of humour that you develop to try and get through something like this is quite something. Last night we watched the sun set and we were talking about how he’d bought 5kg of Vaseline with him for the swim… So much lube… and I’d said we were never going to need it all, but we got through 4kg! That’s the statistic from the swim that I’m most proud of!
Towards the end he’s putting Vaseline on my neck and helping me into my wetsuit and I just whispered “I’ve never really been chafing, I just like these moments together…” and he’s just rolling around in stitches laughing. There was this constant weird sense of humour, that you will only get when you do things like this. Open-water swimmers will understand, it just bonds you in strange ways!
Ross with Ironman pro Lucy Charles. Full interview with Lucy to follow online later this week! Image: 220/Gavin Parish
220: Now you’re on dry land, what are you most looking forward to?
I just want to be warm! The Great British Swim strips you back to your most basic human needs. I haven’t been warm in 157 days so now I just want to be toasty. I wouldn’t mind sweating, I mean, I haven’t sweated in 157 days! People ask if there’s anything else and I’m like “no, just warmth!” I’ve got socks on now and that feels nice! It sounds cheesy, but I just want family and friends – and to be warm. Barbeques too, maybe. I missed out on a summer of barbeques…
To read the full interview with Ross Edgley where he opens up more about finishing the Great British Swim, how his body has been affected and what his next challenge will be, check out issue 359 of 220 Triathlon, on sale 29th November 2018.
Lucy Charles talks Ross Edgley, Kona 2018 and the magic powers of chocolate brownies…