aving already swam across the English Channel, competed at the World Ice Swimming Championships on the Finnish-Russian border, in the Hellespont Race from Europe to Asia, in the 21-mile Double Windermere in the Lake District, and also swam the Gibraltar Straits from Europe to Africa, 37 year old, Anna Wardley is taking on her biggest challenge yet.
From an early age Anna has had an acute awareness of the fragility of life, having lost her father to suicide at a young age and witnessing first hand the unfulfillment of lifelong ambitions she became increasingly aware that we may not have as long as we first thought. With this understanding Anna has held an attitude of making the most of the opportunities she has and taking on the challenges that are in front of her without delay. This led her to racing around the world in a yacht and running a marathon despite a lifelong hatred of running.
Sport was never something that came easy to Anna, her general experience during school was that of being the last chosen member of a team but she has grown to realise that with endurance sport, sometimes the mental battle is far more important than the physical. It is this mental strength that has come through surviving bouts of depression and needing to find that 'inner strength' to stand back up and persevere that has led Anna to where she is today - an unnaturally athletic woman who is swimming over 150 miles around the coast of five islands.
If we rewind six years to 2007, our intrepid adventure swimmer was barely tackling 40 lengths in her local swimming pool no more than twice per week. Teaching herself how to swim front crawl, Anna then went from strength to strength and, on her second attempt, successfuly swam across the English Channel. Anna became hooked and was soon involved in open water challenges both locally and in international waters raising £35,000 in the process for charities. It was in 2012, however, that Anna embarked on her biggest challenge so far. The gruelling 5ive Island swim would see Anna swim a total of 150 miles around Portsea, Dragonera, Jersey, Tiree and the Isle of Wight by the end of 2013.
Dragonera is where the challenge began. On the morning of May 27th 2012 Anna swam 10km around the coast of the uninhabited island just west of Majorca. The 5ive Island Swim Challenge had begun.
On June 20th 2012, Anna circumnavigated the 21km around the island of Portsea. With her 16-person support crew, Anna began her swim at 9.50am, 7 hours and 20 minutes later she had returned safely and was the proud owner of 'the only person to ever swim solo around Portsea' record, according to the rules set by the British Long Distance Swimming Association.
The 5ive Island Swim Challenge actually took on a sixth 'unofficial' island on the 26th July 2012 with Anna swimming her way around 'Nowhere Island’ which had been towed from the Arctic as part of the Cultural Olympiad and was left residing just off of the coastline near Weymouth for the Olympic Games. Our record holding swimmer tackled the island in only 8 minutes and 28 seconds to claim the next record of being the first person to ever swim around the island.
Fast forward to 2013 and Anna is into the final 12 months of her epic swimming challenge and has three more islands to face. Next up is Jersey at the end of June, a 41 mile swim navigating through the strong currents of the Channel Islands. Then in August, it is north to Scotland to face the extremely cold and powerful tidal stream and giant basking sharks as Anna looks to become the first person ever to swim the 30 mile circumference of Tiree without a wetsuit.
Lastly, but by no means least, Anna will attempt to swim the mammoth distance of 60
miles around the Isle of Wight. It is expected to take around 30 hours to complete and will mark an epic end to a truly epic challenge.
Anna is raising money for the Samaritans, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and Sail Africa, if you would like to support her then you can donate through the links below while also following her officialwebsite, blog, twitter and sign up for her e-newsletter.
You can donate to the charities through this link here.
Samaritans Vision is that fewer people die by suicide.
We work to achieve this vision by making it our mission to alleviate emotional distress and reduce the incidence of suicide feelings and suicidal behaviour.
The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust takes young people aged between 8-24 sailing to help them regain their confidence, on their way to recovery from cancer, leukaemia and other serious illness.
David Fribbins joined the TakeaChallenge Team in 2012. A keen triathlete and a sports scientist living and working in London David loves nothing better than getting out of the concrete jungle and into the forests and trails be it by bike, foot or snowboard.
Next year will see David cycle the London to Monaco and take on his first iron distance race through the night while also trying to set PB's across the board at last year's events.