Described by many as the epitome of ocean swimming, the cross-continental traverse of the Hellespont and Dardanelles strait in Turkey is overflowing with history.
The swim was first completed by Lord Byron, the celebrated romantic poet, on 3 May 1810.
Despite his legacy being most synonymous with his literary work, his proudest achievement was in fact being the first person to complete the ‘classical’ swim, in a mere 1 hour and 10 minutes.
After his success, he said “I plume myself on this achievement more than I could possibly do on any kind of glory, political, poetical or rhetorical”.
Byron’s interest in the crossing from Europe to Asia sparked from the Greek myth: Hero and Leander.
Leander, a young gentleman from Abydos, the Asian side of the Hellespont, fell in love with Hero, a priestess of Aphrodite who dwelt in a tower on the European side of the strait.
Leander swam across the Hellespont every night to visit Hero, guided by the light of the tower.
However, on one stormy night, the light dwindled, and Leander tragically drowned.
Hero, seeing the tragedy, drowned herself too.
Whilst visiting Istanbul, 22-year-old Byron decided to emulate the Greek myth, and in 1810 recorded the first ever example of open water swimming.
The event is now recreated once every year on Turkish Victory Day, 30 August, to honour the birth of the sport.
I am very excited to announce that I have entered into the historical swim for my next adventure, hoping to complete the swim at the same age, 22, as Byron did back in the 19th century.
This year I have embarked on three challenges, across three different disciplines: running, rowing and mountaineering.
However, tackling the Hellespont will be my first ocean swimming event, and I don’t think there could be a more historical swim to start with.
My own aspiration to take on the Hellespont began back at the end of 2019, when I read about Geordie Stewart's great adventure after completing the swim.
I signed up for 2020's race, however, it has been understandably cancelled for the last two years because of the pandemic.
I have no doubt the start line this year will be full of more nerves, excitement and tension than ever before.
I can't wait.
I will be swimming in support of the brilliant Alzheimer’s Research UK.
I have supported the charity for several years now, most recently during my 17 marathons in 17 days earlier in the year, and have heard first hand from researchers and scientists the impact every donation has.
Alzheimer’s Research UK is the charity leading the fight against Dementia, and have set the target of finding the first life-changing treatment by 2025.
I am looking forward to continuing the promise I made at my Grandfather’s funeral back in 2019, to support the charity until the day we find a cure.
A promise I am very proud to be keeping.
Together, we will beat Dementia.
Thank you to my brilliant sponsors who are supporting me on this epic adventure:
“Thomas Franks is a unique, contract caterer with a passion for food, professionally presented through excellent service by using fresh, locally sourced ingredients in each and every meal we serve.”
“Gazing equip people to develop their capabilities, manage their way through high pressure situations and deliver results.”
The Body Lab
“A state-of-the-art performance and recovery facility in London, who aim to empower your health and fitness journey by combining the luxury of a private gym and the expertise of specialist practitioners with cutting-edge technology.”
I am very proud to be working with you all.