What an achievement!!!
He only went and did it! Neil Gilson, AKA Marathon Swimmer, completed his epic achievement to be the first person to swim the Bristol Channel from Swansea to Ilfracombe.
Neil swam 28 miles in just 12 hours on Saturday 17th July 2021. Setting off from Swansea at 5am, just after sunrise, Neil began his swim with a support/pilot boat alongside him. On the pilot boat, were some of Neil's friends, including former Olympic swimmers, Liam Tancock and Joe Roebuck, who provided his support crew. Neil was wearing a specially commissioned bright green 'Neil's Challenge' swim hat, which was produced by Swimzi. This was so that he was easy to spot in the water, but also to pay homage to Neil and Liam Tancock's home club - Exeter City Swimming Club!
Photo below - Neil leaving Swansea
Photo below - Neil's support crew of Liam, Joe and Alex
Neil could not have timed the day in the calendar better. The weather conditions were amazing! Beautiful sunshine, was accompanied by very calm sea, which undoubtedly was important, as over that sort of distance, the conditions could have had an adverse affect on his mammoth challenge. If it had been just the weekend before, the conditions would have been very different, with wind, rain and choppier sea conditions. It wasn't to be all plain sailing for Neil though, as after about 3 hours, Neil felt unwell and was vomiting. At such an early stage of the swim, this obviously worried Neil, however, putting it down some energy gels he was using, he adjusted his fuelling, sticking to bananas and flat cola, Neil started to feel better and pressed on.
Later in the swim, the conditions did 'chop up' slightly, which would be expected in such a wide channel of water, with one of the biggest tidal differences anywhere in the world, but Neil pushed on. Throughout the challenge, Neil's supporters were able to track his progress on an app and the support crew provided a series of video updates of Neil swimming via various social media platforms.
Photo below - the tracking app showing Neil's route/location