SA man swims length of Britain

26 November 2013 9:28 AM

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SA man swims length of Britain

"I was told I was going to die & it couldn't be done. But after 135 days, I've only gone and done it," Sean Conway wrote on Twitter after recently becoming the first person to swim the length of Great Britain.

Conway, who grew up in KwaZulu-Natal, attending Clifton Prep School and Hilton College, left Land's End in Cornwall on 30 June and reached John O'Groats in Scotland on 11 November.

"It's now been 10 days since I've become the first person to swim the length of Great Britain (via Ireland). My supposedly two-month swim took me four-and-a-half months as I battled 12 degree water, jellyfish stings in the face and 20-foot waves," he wrote in an e-mail to the Midmar Mile.

"It was by far the hardest thing I have ever done. It was great to have fellow South Africa swimmer Kenton Kirkwood come over and swim with me as I made my way up Ireland. While he was with us we did the biggest day of 32km. That was a huge boost to the team morale."

For a man who cycled around the world, covering 25 750 kilometres, three-quarters of those with a fractured spine, that's quite a statement. However, there is a reason no one had swum the length of Britain previously and for a man whose previous longest swim had been three miles (4.8 kilometres) it was a massive challenge.

During the swim, Conway grew a huge, red beard that has become a media sensation in its own right, but which served to protect him against jellyfish stings.

"I've inadvertently now become 'The Swimmer' and it still hasn't sunk in at all. Being cold and wet for four-and-a-half months has taken its toll and I'm keen to take some time out and relax for a bit."

When Conway takes on his challenges, which have also included climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in a penguin suit, he always does his bit for charity. On this occasion, he chose War Child to be the beneficiary of his efforts.

War Child protects children from the brutal effects of war and helps to rebuild their lives. It works in some of the world's most dangerous countries, providing life-changing support for the most vulnerable children whose homes, families and communities have been torn apart by conflict.


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