ENDURANCE swimmer Anna Wardley is used to shocks – from plunging into icy waters or being chased by stinging jelly fish.
But she was stunned when she was crowned Inspirational Woman of the Year at The News’ first ever Woman of the Year awards.
The 38-year-old businesswoman, from Alverstoke, Gosport, was honoured for raising more than £50,000 for charity by completing the gruelling Five Island Swim challenge.
The incredible feat saw her swim around Jersey, Dragonera in Mallorca, Portsea Island, Tiree in the Inner Hebrides and, most recently, 60 miles around the coast of the Isle of Wight.
That comes on top of conquering the English Channel on her second attempt in 2009.
Anna received the award at a glamorous ceremony at The Marriott Hotel last week.
She said: ‘It was amazing to win. It’s great because for the past two years, with the Five Islands, it’s just been me with my head under water. It’s been very intense.
‘So it was great to go out, take a step back, and celebrate what I and my support team have achieved over the past two years.
‘For me, I’m probably more proud of raising the money for the charities than I am for doing the swim.’
The £55,000 raised will be split between Samaritans, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and Sail Africa.
‘To get an award like that, to say you are the most inspirational woman in the area, is just great.
‘In the room that night the other nominees there were incredible, inspiring people so to be judged the best is unbelievable.’
Anna was in charge of communications for Clipper Round the World Race and her life was one of being on call 24/7 and international travel.
She left the job to concentrate on swimming and set up her own communications firm to work to her own schedule.
But she has only been back in the water twice since completing the Isle of Wight swim.
She is now focusing ‘100 per cent’ on her business.
The other nominees were swimmer Chris Pitman, from Havant, trauma therapist Susan Cowe, from Rowlands Castle, and war memorial campaigner Jean Louth, who was highly commended.