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Fitness & Health

05th Nov 2018

Man who swam coast of Britain describes how ‘tongue disintegrated’

Ross Edgley became the first person to swim around the UK's entire coastline. He spoke to JOE about the physical toll the swim took on his body

Alex Roberts

In successfully swimming the entire coastline of Britain, Ross Edgley has made history

Red Bull athlete Edgley now holds the record for the longest circumnavigation island swim in the world. JOE caught up with Edgley, who described the harsh toll the Great British Swim had taken on his body.

He said, “The Great British Swim was all unchartered territory as no one had completed it before. I was waking up with parts of my tongue on my pillow!”

Edgley also suffered pretty gruesome injuries to the rest of his body.

“I had chafing wounds which basically moulded to my bedsheet.”

Despite the physical toll taken, Edgley is coping well back on land.

“Surprisingly, I’m actually feeling alright. I woke at 4am this morning without thinking and checked my watch for the next tide.

“My girlfriend wasn’t happy and told me to get back to sleep quickly!”

Since making it to shore in Margate yesterday, Edgley is beginning to recover and refuel.

(Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images for Red Bull)

“I’ve been eating burgers, some great, big burgers – since I’ve missed a whole summer of barbecues”.

Food is an afterthought compared to what Edgley really desired, however.

“I just really want to experience things I couldn’t while swimming – such as warmth and not always being cold and wet.

“I also don’t want to get slapped in the face by a jellyfish!”

Stemming the tide

The Lincolnshire man had previously spoken to JOE prior to embarking on the Great British Swim. He detailed just how important nutrition was going to be when swimming.

Calories were key as six hour swims demanded an immense amount of energy. Liquid ice creams, smoothies, whey protein shakes and porridge were all on the agenda.

“My nutrition would often adapt on the day. Most of the time I’d be eating nut butters mixed with porridge – which was like a cookie dough but a more healthy, nutritious version!”

“Even things like pizza worked well – I’d even eat two on some days.”

Edgley’s appetite wasn’t always as substantial, though.

“Other days I didn’t want loads of liquid in my stomach”, he said.

Since beginning the Great British Swim in June, Edgley did not touch land once. Instead, time out of the water was spent in a very small support boat.

The road to recovery

Recovering from the six-hour swims proved to be most difficult.

“Sleep was literally the biggest thing I could do. It was done in phases.”

While sleep is essential for promoting growth and recovery, you need to be hitting the hay in the right kind of environment. Sloshing around stormy seas is arguably not suited to a good night’s sleep.

“I didn’t get the kind of growth hormone-inducing sleep you wish for”, Edgley said.

“Not with 10 foot waves smashing the side of your boat.”

Support from his sponsor was crucial to safely navigating the UK’s coastline.

Edgley now holds the record for the longest circumnavigation island swim

“I need to give a shout out to the Red Bull team. I swam with a support buoy which had a flare and GPS tracker, so at no point would I have been lost or anything like that.”

Despite having that safety net in place, it wasn’t all plain sailing.

“We called the challenge the Great British Swim, but it wasn’t a normal swim at all.

“You’re swimming against the world’s most giant whirlpools and moving at the cruising speed of a dolphin.”

Successfully completing this swim has piqued Edgley’s curiosity even further.

“It’s made me think, if it’s possible to swim around Britain, where else can it be done?”

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