Anna’s epic island swims

Anna Wardley in front of the white cliffs of Dover ' credit Simon Jessop
Anna Wardley in front of the white cliffs of Dover ' credit Simon Jessop

SHEFFIELD endurance swimmer Anna Wardley achieved a lifetime’s ambition when she swam the English Channel two years ago.

Now she has set herself a new challenge as she embarks on a series of five extreme swims and a world record attempt.

The 36-year-old, who comes from Bradfield, will start the five-month charity campaign next month by swimming around the uninhabited island of Dragonera, a protected natural park off the west coast of Mallorca.

In June she aims to swim 13 miles around Portsea Island in Hampshire – negotiating busy shipping channels – and in July she will travel to the Channel Islands to swim 41 miles around Jersey.

Her penultimate challenge will be an attempt to become the first person to swim around the island of Tiree off the west coast of Scotland.

The feat will involve battling strong currents and outlying reefs to swim 30 miles in freezing temperatures, without a wetsuit.

Anna says: “Although all five swims are challenging in their own right, the swim around Tiree will be particularly tough due to the powerful tidal streams and the extremely low water temperature, which barely rises above 13 degrees Celsius even in the height of summer.”

The final swim of the series will be a non-stop 60-mile circuit of the Isle of Wight - one so far achieved by only three people.

“Although I’ve completed a number of long distance swims, including the English Channel and Gibraltar Straits, I’m not underestimating the magnitude of the challenges that lie ahead,” says Anna.

“I have a gruelling training programme to make sure I’m prepared mentally and physically for what are set to be the most difficult swims I’ve ever faced.

I hope to not only raise a lot of money for my chosen charities, but also to show people what you can achieve when you put the classic cliché ‘anything is possible’ to the test.”

The swims are part of Anna’s Turning the Tide campaign to raise £50,000 for the Samaritans, Toe in the Water and Sail Africa.She launched the campaign five years ago and has already raised £35,000 through her epic swims, including competing in the World Ice Swimming Championships in Finland, the Hellespont Race from Europe to Asia, the 21-mile Double Windermere in the Lake District, and crossing the Gibraltar Straits.

Before her first Channel attempt in 2007, Anna, who now lives in Gosport, Hampshire, but is a regular visitor to her mother, Barbara, in Bradfield, was an occasional pool swimmer. She taught herself front crawl in order to attempt the Channel and succeeded at her second attempt.

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