ALREADY training for a major ocean swimming challenge later this year, Anna Wardley could not resist the chance to push herself even further.
The swimmer from Alverstoke in Gosport was in Cala Figuera in Spain swimming for eight to 12 hours a day and knew no women had swum the almost 17-mile distance from Mallorca to the island of Cabrera.
Anna knew she was already fit enough to swim the Cabrera Channel and jumped at the chance, finishing in 12 hours and 24 minutes.
Despite being stung by jellyfish on the way she claimed a trio of firsts.
She was the first woman to swim the route, the first ratified non-wetsuit swimmer in the channel and the swim on Saturday was the earliest in the year.
Anna said: ‘I was aware a woman hadn’t swum it before.
‘I was acclimatised to the water temperature so I knew I’d be able to do it.
‘I never wear a wetsuit anyway and I thought I might as well go for it.
‘Had I not been swimming across the channel I’d have been swimming for a similar length of time doing a training swim up and down the coast.
‘Swimming across the channel from A to B is so much easier than if you’re not going anywhere in particular.’
Anna was not allowed to stop and paused only to feed every 30 minutes, with her team on hand to pass her food.
But the long swim wasn’t the only problem in the jellyfish-infested waters and she is heading to see her doctor after suffering a particularly bad and possibly infected sting on her hand.
‘I’ve got really almost like cigarette burns, they’re quite painful,’ she said.
‘There were lots and lots of jellyfish – there were thick shoals of them at some of the stages where there was no option but to swim through them.
‘They feel like an electric shock when they get you.’
As reported, Anna is preparing to swim around the last three islands in her Five Island Swim Challenge, which has so far seen her swim more than 124 miles.
In June she will swim 41 miles around Jersey, then 30 miles around Tiree in the Inner Hebrides in August, before a final 60 miles around the Isle of Wight in September.
She is raising cash for the Samaritans, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and Sail Africa and has brought in around £40,000 so far.