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Digital Subscriptions > Outdoor Swimmer > March 19 > OF STRONGMEN AND STUNT SWIMMING


Isn’t a marathon swim hard enough without towing trees, boats full of people, or swimming while shackled? By Elaine K Howley

In October 2018, British strongman Ross Edgley completed a 1,792-mile staged swim around Great Britain. The event, which spanned 157 days, garnered worldwide attention and was intended to “inspire people to get out there and challenge themselves,” Edgley told Red Bull magazine. While this effort added to the fitness expert’s international stardom, it wasn’t his first rodeo – the beefy brunette who had once upon a time been a competitive pool swimmer and water polo player had completed a triathlon in 2016 while lugging a 100-pound tree and a 100-kilometre swim in the Caribbean, also while towing a 100-pound log, in early 2018.

While his feats are impressive in terms of the sheer strength required to complete them, they could also be described as stunts designed to show off his status as a “strongman” – that particular breed of athlete that revels in unconventional challenges that seem exaggeratedly absurd, possibly pointless, and nearly impossible.

But Edgley isn’t the only strongman to find success and a massive following with formidable feats of fortitude away from terra firma. Rather, Edgley follows in the wake of a lengthy history of other stunt swimmers (both male and female) who have achieved accomplishments that might not meet everyone’s definition of “swimming” but are designed to inspire awe and perhaps envy of their superior athletic prowess.

Claire Farry Swam with hands and feet tied together
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About Outdoor Swimmer

Stunt swimming, ice swimming, urban swimming, swimming after bears, Channel swimming, lake swimming, river dipping – from the Lake District to Dubai, via London, Montana, Geneva and Tooting. It's all in the March issue of Outdoor Swimmer. Plus, training, technique, stunning photographs, inspiring stories. And cake!