059: Ross Edgley/The Great British Swim

Ross aboard Hecate, Margate, November 2018. Photo: Owen Tozer

“What’s next? Well, I need to learn to walk again”.

Actual legend alert! I have to admit, the first time I heard of Ross Edgley’s plan to swim around the coast of Great Britain I thought he had absolutely no chance of completing it. Swimming six hours on, six hours off – for 1500 miles? It just seemed too vast an undertaking to contemplate, let alone actually complete.

Ross, November 2018. Photo: Owen Tozer

Then, like many thousands of others, I became hooked on the whole crazy story, following Ross through his regular vlogs and cheering him on as it became clear that he was going to finish – and in his trademark inspirational and positive style.

Ross and his infamous banana tally. Photo: Owen Tozer

Naturally, I had to try get him on the show – so on the eve of his big finish in Margate I jumped aboard Hecate, his home for the past five months, to meet the man himself and find out exactly how he was got though one of the most celebrated physical and mental feats of recent times.

Hecate crew. Photo: Owen Tozer

The result is a brilliant, poignant and hilarious conversation with Ross in which we unpick the whole thing. It was a real privilege to spend some time abroad Hecate with Ross, Matt Knight and crew, and the sense of achievement and camaraderie among everybody was brilliant to witness.

Huge thanks to Ross, Matt, Euan Godon, Robbie Henderson and everyone else who made this happen.

If you only have five minutes…

Listen to this section - Ross on how his swim has taken swimming into new territory

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Show Notes

  • On Hecate the day before the final mile
  • The human flotilla
  • Pacing the tides
  • Matt Knight on mileage – 1523 miles in total
  • Ross’s daily routine on the swim.
  • Where the idea came from.
  • ‘We’ve taken swimming into a new environment.’
  • Finding your new habitual level.
  • General Adaptation Syndrome
  • Normalising your habitual level
  • How the reality matched  the theory on the swim.
  • Salt tongue
  • #Rhinoneck
  • ‘I would have cried – if I’d have had time’.
  • How time was one of the key factors in the swim.
  • Central Governor Theory – fatigue as an emotionally-driven state
  • The relativity of homeostasis.
  • Exploring these theories through the ongoing vlog series.
  • The World’s Fittest Book
  • Being a sponge for knowledge
  • “I’m built like a hobbit”.
  • Ross’s background in water polo
  • Running a marathon pulling a car.
  • The ‘tree-athlon’
  • Swimming with a tree between Saint Lucia and Martinique.
  • ‘I need to swim for 48 hours’.
  • Where the idea came from.
  • Matt Knight and crew’s crucial role in the whole undertaking.
  • The palpable camaraderie and chemistry between the whole team.
  • Matt’s expertise.
  • The original target – 100 days – and the necessity of having a deadline.
  • ‘You can either have a race or an adventure’.
  • Too early to measure any permanent changes.
  • The importance of perception.
  • A revealing encounter with a Minke Whale
  • Choosing to take the good.
  • The physical toll.
  • The lowest point of the trip…
  • …and the most memorable moment.
  • Earning the privilege of those moments that carry you through.
  • The subplots of the swim.
  • ‘An instrument not an ornament’
  • What happens next – ‘I need to learn to walk again’.
  • The shifting boundaries of perception.
  • Kipchoge’s Nike run


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