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UK Team To Attempt Marathon Swim From Farallon Islands To The Golden Gate Bridge

23/04/2015, by Pete Roome

Joel Richards, a good friend of Sisu, got in touch with us this week about the epic swim challenge he is about to undertake…

Next month (May 2015) Joel and four other swimmers from the UK will be attempting the Farallon Islands swim, between the Farallon Islands and the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. The swim will take place between 7-10th May, depending when conditions are at their optimum.

The 30-mile course is renowned for being one of the most difficult, coldest and perilous marathon swims in the world. The swim is often described as being “like the English Channel, but much colder, rougher and with sharks”. Oh and it’s only been completed a handful of times.

Water temperatures can range from 50°F (10°C) to 55.4°F (13°C), but temperatures have been recorded lower on several occasions. The water conditions are extremely rough with cresting ocean swells of up to 20 feet. Currents and tides often exceed the speed of the fastest swimmers. Due to the extreme conditions, the swim is expected to take between 20-30 hours.

Part of the UK team attempting the marathon swim

The 100% UK team lines up as follows:

  • John Gunn
  • Joel Richards
  • Ali Wilde
  • Edward Morgan
  • Mary Stokes

Intrigued by what training the team have done to prepare themselves for the challenge? Here’s a video of the UK teammates swimming in a cold water survival pool, to replicate the conditions they’ll experience during the challenge:

To statisfy the stat geeks out there, here are some numbers related to the swim:

  • Total distance: 50-75km, dependant on currents/route.
  • Expected duration of swim: 20-30 hours
  • Water temperature: 9°C-13°C (no wetsuits allowed), channel swim for comparison is normally 20°C-23°C
  • Expected time until hypothermia kicks in: 45mins, swim rotation time: 60mins
  • Currents to swim with/against: +5kph/-5kph
  • Max expected wave/swell height: 20ft/6metres
  • Number of great white sharks tagged in the first 500m of swim: 7
  • Number of untagged sharks in the remaining 49.5km: Unknown!!!

The swimmers are supporting the Royal National Lifeboat Institution as part of their efforts. You can sponsor Joel and his teammates here.

For further information about the swim and the challenge that awaits, visit the team’s website.

You’ll be able to follow Joel and his team via the live tracking they’ll setup during the swim.

From all of us here at Sisu, we wish Joel and his team the best of luck, and a safe swim!

The Golden Gate Bridge and The Farallon Islands