Dam delight for Anna as she conquers South African swim

CHALLENGE The Midmar Dam in South Africa
CHALLENGE The Midmar Dam in South Africa
Picture: Pierandrea Guarnieri

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SHE’S already conquered the English Channel and swum between two different continents.

Now Anna Wardley has joined 17,000 other people in the world’s biggest open-water swim through a dam.

Anna, from Alverstoke, Gosport flew to Durban in South Africa to take part in the Midmar Mile.

This sees 17,000 people swim a mile in the Midmar Dam north of Pietermaritzburg.

Anna said: ‘The really amazing thing is you have everything from an Olympic gold medallist to a granny doing it,’ she said.

‘You have got unimaginable levels of experience.

‘You’ve got people doing it as a family.

‘It was just an awesome event – it was really well organised.

‘It was just like a festival atmosphere.

‘There was lots of stuff going on.’

It was a very different swim for Anna as well, because the water was fresh and reached a temperature of 24C.

The 35-year-old is more used to swimming in the seas at around 2C.

‘It was boiling,’ she added.

‘It was really hot. There were some people swimming in wetsuits out there.

‘I can’t imagine how hot that was.

‘I don’t want to complain about how hot and sunny it was when it’s so cold here, but it’s not what I am used to in the Solent.’

Anna raised tens of thousands of pounds completing the Channel swim and taking on the Strait of Gibraltar over the past two years.

During the swim from England to France she was forced to overcome her greatest fear – jellyfish.

There was no chance of meeting one during the swim across the dam, but she had other problems to put up with.

‘What was weird for me was the sheer number of people swimming,’ she said.

‘There were about 1,000 people in my start.

‘I’m used to swimming alone.

‘You have just got hands and feet in your face and people swimming on top of you.

‘It’s like being in a human soup.

‘For the first 100 metres you are just trying to get some space to move.’

Meanwhile, Anna has also taken part in the BBC One series Total Wipeout in Argentina.

Anna was featured in the assault course programme earlier this month, but she finished in last place.

‘It was an absolutely amazing experience,’ she added.

‘It was just incredible. It was all a bit surreal. When you are on top of the course you feel like you’re on top of a house.

‘Everyone is completely out of their comfort zone.

‘Everything you are doing will potentially be on national television which I found scary really.

‘I’m used to doing swims through the middle of the channel and not many people can see you.’