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Top 5 Historic Swimming Moments

Looking for a little bit of swim-spiration? Here are our top five historic moments in swimming to give you that push to take the plunge, who knows, the next one on the list could be you!  

1. On May 3, 1810, Lord Byron swam the Dardanelles, which is also known as the Hellespont. This narrow strait, which is located in northwest Turkey, acts as a natural boundary between Europe and Asia. Whilst waiting in the dock at Constantinople, Lord Byron and Lieutenant Ekenhead decided to jump out of the boat and swim the Hellespont, although there are some accounts that he swam off to meet his mysterious lover. There are now popular annual events to recreate this swim at Hellespont.


2. On August 6, 1926 a 19 year old Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel. For a grueling 14 hours and 34 minutes, Gertrude pushed through unpredictable currents, cold water, and strong winds. It was because of these strong winds that Gertrude's trainer kept on asking her to get out of the choppy water, which she then replied, "What for?" At this time only five men had ever swum the English Channel, to which the best time was 16 hours and 33 minutes. This inspired women all over the world. And get this, the first person to greet Gertrude was an immigration officer asking her for her passport.


3. In June 2013, Sean Conway set off from Land's End to become the first person to swim the length of Britain. Sean swam 900 miles in over 135 days. He grew a thick beard to prevent jellyfish from stinging his face, something that he's still got today. He swam 10 miles a day and rested either on his support yacht or ashore. He battled through strong tides, storms, and massive waves. This swim was a part of Sean's ultimate triathlon, which he completed when he ran the length of Britain in early 2015. This swimming challenge was in support of War Child, which so far has raised over £10,000.


4. On the 7th of August, 1987, Lynne Cox dipped her toes in the freezing cold water to start her swim along the Bering Strait. Although the route was only 2.7 miles, the temperature of the water was only 3 degrees. In recent interviews Lynne has described how cold the water really was. She said it was like a vampire sucking out all the heat in her body. The only way for Lynne to survive the cold waters was just to keep on swimming, and she did it in 2 hours and 16 minutes.

The biggest challenge was the last 800 metres. This was due to the very strong offshore currents. Once she had reached the shore she was greeted by two Russian military figures. They prepared a small beach party in her honor which mainly consisted of tea and biscuits, obviously to warm her up, and also had the K.G.B. and various sports stars. This swim turned Lynne into a Cold War celebrity and today it's recognized as one of the hardest swims to do in cold water.


5. In 1998 Susie Maroney swam from Mexico to Cuba. Susie swam 123 miles in 38 hours and 33 minutes across the Yucatan Straits. At the time it held the world record for unassisted distance swimming in open water. Starting at 5 a.m., Susie had to deal with jellyfish-infested, choppy waters. Due to sharks in the waters, at some points Susie had to swim in a cage and her brothers even swam alongside her at points to protect her. Although she had a special Lycra swimsuit protecting her from jellyfish stings, she was covered head to toe in them. She reached the shores of Cuba at 2:30 p.m., where Cuban officials, her support team, and journalists greeted her. Susie originally wanted to swim 145 miles but the Cuban authorities wouldn't let her, advising her to finish up on the beach.


That's just a few of our favourite historic swims to date. Are there any others you would add to our list?