UCLan student becomes first person to swim from England to the Isle of Man
Adam Diver took just over 55 hours to complete the gruelling 46-mile feat
A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) student has become the first person to swim between the UK mainland and the Isle of Man.
Adam Diver navigated tricky tides and battled relentless jellyfish stings as he completed the 46-mile (74km) challenge across the Irish Sea in just over 55 hours.
The psychological wellbeing practitioner student set off from St Bees, in Cumbria, at 8am last Monday and arrived in Port Mooar on Wednesday afternoon.
The former army captain, from Fleetwood, said: “It was exhausting and really tough going. I'm quite physically fit but I'd say 40 percent of it was physical and 60 percent mental.
“The most difficult part was when I was half way across, when I couldn’t see England behind me or the Isle of Man ahead. It didn't seem like I was pulling away from England at all and then I couldn’t see the island until I got really close, but I was so relieved and happy to reach dry land.
"The most difficult part was when I was half way across, when I couldn’t see England behind me or the Isle of Man ahead"— Record-setting swimmer Adam Diver
“I got stung in the face by a lion’s mane jellyfish and then I got stung on the legs and arms about every 10 minutes, which feels like immediate sun burn,” he said. “I was swimming over them all the time and I got used to the pain.
“I could also hear something in the water, which turned out to be a school of dolphins about 100m away talking to each other.”
It was the 48-year-old’s second attempt at the expedition having been forced to stop last year due to poor weather conditions.
Adam, who works as an NHS mental health practitioner, commented: “I’ve been on standby for weeks as I needed three days of high pressure and no wind. I've been swimming every single day, sometimes twice a day - ramping it up towards the end as I knew I needed all those hours and miles of training in my body to give me the best chance to do it.”
His 14-year-old son Dexter, who is a keen swimmer, planted the seed for the epic challenge when he asked his dad if it was possible to swim to the island, where Adam’s parents live.
"It's tough on the head when you're swimming for hours, you think why am I doing this? But then you realise, you're doing it for mental health"— UCLan psychological wellbeing practitioner student Adam Diver
After speaking to Fleetwood Nautical College colleagues about the possibility of success, the decision was made.
He used the College’s wave pool to assist his training as well as swimming in the sea. He said: “The journey is 31 miles but I ended up doing 46 miles as we had to work with the tides. If you don’t have people onboard who know the Irish Sea then it is pretty difficult to do. You need a boat, you need a crew and you need a kayaking team, so it is difficult to get it all together and to be ready to go whenever the weather forecast is ideal but I’m so thankful for their support.”
Adam, who served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia during his 27 years in the army, has raised more than £16,000 so far for Healthier Heroes. The Burnley-based charity, where Adam is a trustee, aims to raise awareness and help soldiers who are suffering from mental health problems such as PTSD, anxiety and depression.
The dad-of-two, who will compete for Great Britain in September’s Triathlon World Championships, added: “It's tough on the head when you're swimming for hours, you think why am I doing this? But then you realise, you're doing it for mental health.”