Anna Wardley completes her Isle of Wight swim

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GOSPORT endurance swimmer Anna Wardley has completed her 56-mile swim of the Isle of Wight ahead of schedule.

Anna, 37, touched in at Ryde Pier this afternoon to cheers and applause from crowds.

ON DRY LAND Anna Wardley warms up on Ryde Pier

ON DRY LAND Anna Wardley warms up on Ryde Pier

She becomes the fourth person to swim around the Isle of Wight.

On completing the challenge Anna said: ‘I’m freezing cold and pretty exhausted but I do feel elated.

‘A lot of people have invested a lot of time into this but to achieve what I wanted to do is incredible.’

Anna finished in an impressive 26 hours 33 minutes and 28 seconds. It had been expected the swim would take 30 hours.

Anna said: ‘The time [I finished in] is totally unimportant. All that matters to me is that I finished at Ryde pier.’

Anna has completed five epic swims in an attempt to raise £50,000 for three charities - Samaritans, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and Sail Africa.

She has already reached that target, and looks set to raise much more as donations continue to flood in.

Anna said: ‘My support team has been telling me about the donations as we went round but it sounds like things have gone wild.’

‘The next challenge for me is to have a rest. I’m exhausted. I want to go and pick up my poor dog who has been staying with a friend for a few weeks.

‘I might have a cheeky glass of champagne on the rib back to Gosport.’

Greeted by scores of well wishers, Anna got out of the water and on to Ryde Pier where cheering spectators had gathered.

She had wanted to swim all the way to Ryde beach but due to a strong tide which was sweeping her under the pier, she decided to get out and warm up on the pier instead.

Dave Talbot, 64, from Binstead, said: ‘I heard about it on the radio and I thought what a fantastic achievement. It is an incredible achievement, I couldn’t do it.’

Ruth and Tony Gazzard, from Lake, were on the pier in support.

Ruth, 73, said: ‘We have kept up with all her trips and thought what a fantastic stamina and determination. We thought someone should be at end to give her some recognition. It is a fantastic feat. My husband was a fisherman and he knows how bad the seas can be round here. She’s got so much determination which is so extraordinary in this day and age.’

Anna began her Five Island Swim Challenge two years ago and has since swum around Portsea, Jersey and much of Tiree in Scotland, but was forced to quit that swim after 20 out of 30 miles on August 13 due to sea conditions and trouble with jellyfish.

Also see: The timeline of Anna’s 26 hours in the water.