‘Lots of chocolate bars’: First woman swims from Land’s End to John o’Groats | World record

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A 23-year-old has become the first woman in the world to swim from Land’s End to John o’Groats.

Jasmine Harrison, from Thirsk in North Yorkshire, completed the grueling 900-mile race on Tuesday after around three and a half months of swimming.

The distance is equivalent to swimming approximately 58,000 lengths in a 25 meter pool.

The swimming instructor and motivational speaker already holds a world record for being the youngest woman to cross the Atlantic solo in February last year.

Battling thousands of jellyfish, being tracked by a shark and swimming in a live military exercise, Harrison swam between four and 12 hours a day after first entering the water at Land’s End in West Cornwall , July 1.

His swims were often split into two shifts, interrupted by eating and sleeping in his support boat.

Her longest swim was 12 hours and the maximum distance she covered in a shift was 14 nautical miles – around 16 miles – 27 nautical miles (31 miles) being the most she covered in a day.

The world record holder’s top speed during the trip was an impressive 16.1 mph.

Much of Harrison’s swimming took place at night, during which on one occasion she was approached by a large whale lurking 1 meter below her, she said.

But that wasn’t his only interaction with ocean creatures. The expert swimmer was stung several times in the face, hands and feet by jellyfish.

Harrison sometimes wore a neoprene mask made from a swimming hood to protect his face, which helped, but it didn’t stop the odd little jellyfish from drifting into his mouth.

She was closely followed by a basking shark swimming in the whirlpools of the Gulf of Corryvreckan in Scotland and she also swam alongside whales, dolphins and seals as she passed under the Skye Bridge.

Despite some spectacular sights along the way, Harrison said there were mental and physical challenges. To start with, the water was cold and in some areas it encountered busy shipping lanes.

An alarming moment was when she found herself swimming as live ammunition flew overhead during Exercise Joint Warrior, Europe’s largest military exercise involving the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and the British Army, together with forces from other nations, which was taking place at Cape Wrath in the North West of Scotland.

She also experienced painful chafing from her suit and suffered from ‘salty mouth’, a condition that rips the skin off her tongue and throat and makes it difficult to swallow.

His mental challenges included putting in consistent effort despite some strokes seeing little distance gained. At one point in the Bristol Channel, Harrison only progressed three miles in six hours, which she says was mentally tough.

Speaking after the challenge, she said: “From the moment I first dipped into the water until I finally reached dry land, it was a truly epic experience.

“From all the jellyfish to the constant cold and chafing of my wetsuit, it was really tough, but at the time it was also incredibly rewarding.”

When she wasn’t swimming, the intrepid athlete was managing the logistics of her trip, such as refueling, crew changes and boat management.

She followed a normal diet throughout, but added “lots of chocolate bars”.

Harrison, who is county ambassador for Girlguiding North Yorkshire North East, said she took up the challenge to inspire others but also support two charities: Sea Shepherd UK, a marine conservation charity whose aim is to stop the destruction of ocean habitats, and Surfers Against Sewage, a charity working to keep Britain’s coasts clean.

“This challenge has inspired me more to work with organizations focused on environmental protection and I also hope that by doing this I have inspired others and shown that when you focus on something, everything is possible and you can overcome all the obstacles that are put in your way,” she said.

Harrison completed the record-breaking adventure at 4.43pm on Tuesday, before receiving a warm welcome ashore from his dog Bonnie and his parents, Susan and Keith, at John o’Groats.

She said: “I can’t wait to relax, get a good night’s sleep, spend time with my dog, and then get outside to share my story to inspire others.”

Only two people had swum from Land’s End to John o’Groats before – Ross Edgley, who holds the record for the first and fastest Briton to do it in 61 days in 2018, and Sean Conway who completed it in 2013.

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