An environmental campaigner is swimming non-stop around the Isle of Wight this August for a gruelling 24 hours to break a world record. Vegan powerhouse Oly Rush, from Dorset, is taking on the 65-mile challenge after swimming the length of the Jurassic Coast last year.
“Last year’s swim was epic” says Oly, “100 miles over 10 days and we raised more than £10,000 for two local organisations I work with, Clean Jurassic Coast CIC and Oceans to Earth CIC, these guys are fighting tirelessly to keep our oceans plastic-free.”
Only four swimmers have circumnavigated the Isle of Wight, with the quickest setting the record at 26 hours. Oly wants to top that by completing the swim in under 24 hours and setting a new world record.
“This year I also want to raise money for one of the hardest working ocean activists I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting, Andrew Frost, ’Frosty’ from Turn The Tide Cornwall. Frosty is in need of a bigger boat to keep him safe along the unpredictable and rugged Cornish coastline where he clears unbelievable amounts of plastic and detritus.”
Setting off at Seaview, near Ryde on the island, Oly will spend the next day and night in the water.
“Sub-26 hours is what I am aiming for, but it would be nice to do it in under 24. Who knows – the ocean will decide. I chose the Isle of Wight because last year when I completed the Jurassic Coast swim, a friend of mine pointed at it and said ‘you’ll be swimming around the Isle of Wight next’. He meant it as a joke, but it planted a seed!
“I hope such a big swim will make people think about the damage being caused to the ocean and the planet as a whole by the way we live our lives – it’s a convenient lifestyle for us but the most inconvenient lifestyle for every other creature. It’s also to raise awareness about the way we treat our oceans because the amount of plastic we throw into them every day is scary.”
The 36-year-old plasterer first started swimming when he was six and his old coach is helping him train for the charity event. Oly adds: “In the last five years I have developed quite an efficient stroke, which is 45 strokes per minute compared to most swimmers who are 55 per minute.
“I just seem to keep going like a diesel engine – but without the pollution. I love the ocean – it’s so therapeutic. No matter how much you have to think about, you just seem to lose yourself in the sound of the waves.”
Scott Dawson, who broke the current record in 2016, put a team together to help Oly train and accompany him during the challenge. They will follow him in six kayaks, a safety RIB and the private yacht of British yachtsman Brian Thompson, who twice broke the speed record for sailing around the world.
Oly will swim for long stretches of the night unable to see ahead in the pitch blackness. He said: “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about the night section, especially if I hit something like a jellyfish in the water, but it’s an adventure. On the Jurassic Coast swim, I hit a buoy and it almost gave me a heart attack.”
To support Oly on his adventure, visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/plasticfight?utm_term=pVa2QggAp