Endurance Swimmer On Course For Island Bid

An endurance swimmer from Gosport's on course for her attempt to swim solo and non-stop around the Isle of Wight.

Anna Wardley is undertaking the challenge as part of her bid to complete circumnavigations of five islands.

The 37-year-old, from Gosport in Hampshire, set off yesterday (20th September) at 10.31am from Ryde Sands and is expected to complete the 56.4-mile swim in about 30 hours. Only three people have completed the feat, with the last successful attempt in 1984.

She has passed the famous Needles landmark and is making her way round to the east side of the island this morning.

Heather Ewing, spokeswoman for the challenge, said: "She's looking good this morning, although her arms are looking a bit tired and it has got to be hurting by now. That said, she's very cheerful and demanding a bacon sandwich if any are made for the support team."

Before setting off, Anna said "It's been nearly 30 years since this challenge was last successfully completed, so I'm under no illusions how tough it will be.

"There will be a time when I'll be swimming against the tide through the night, almost on the spot for hours. I'll also see the sun set and rise, and we'll be racing against the clock to reach critical points to beat the tide.

"However just knowing people are thinking of me and willing me on will definitely help when the going gets really tough, and it's a huge boost knowing that I'm raising money for such fantastic charities.

"I've made no secret that this will be the pinnacle of my challenges and I actually can't wait to start swimming."

Miss Wardley is attempting the swim under the rules of the British Long Distance Swimming Association wearing just a standard swimming costume, goggles and a swimming cap.

It is the culmination of her two-year Five Island Swim Challenge raising funds for the Samaritans, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and Sail Africa, with her target set at £50,000.

She has already successfully completed circumnavigations of Dragonera off the coast of Mallorca (10km, 6.2 miles), Portsea Island in Hampshire (21km, 13 miles) and Jersey in the Channel Islands (66km, 41 miles).

But bitterly cold water, lion's mane jellyfish and foul tides forced her to abandon her attempt to become the first person to swim around Tiree in the Inner Hebrides, 20 miles and more than 16 hours into the 30-mile challenge on August 13 this year.

Sean Parsons, communications manager at Navitus Bay wind park which is sponsoring her challenge, said: "Navitus Bay is proud to be supporting Anna as she embarks upon the final leg of the Five Island Swim Challenge. We have been consistently impressed by Anna's determination and the outstanding achievements she has made during her previous swims. The whole team will be following her progress around the Isle of Wight, and will be cheering her on every nautical mile."

During her swim, Miss Wardley is being supported by her team on a range of craft including Ribs, motor boats and kayaks.

Kevin Murphy is officiating the attempt on behalf of the British Long Distance Swimming Association. He is known as the King of the English Channel on account of the 34 times he has swum the Channel, and he was the first person to swim around the Isle of Wight in 1971.

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