Penarth to Clevedon
Swim time: 6hours 49 mins 10 seconds
Start: Lavernock Point
Finish: Clevedon Slipway
Observer: Tom Chapman
Swim Crew: Sian Jakeman
Pilot: Meuryn Hughes
Ratified by the BCSA.
I have done many endurance events over the years, running, triathlon and over the last few years
have concentrated more on swimming due to knee problems and finding the other sports just too
demanding on my joints.
I live in South Wales and swim in the Bristol channel all year round and have done numerous point
to point swims. In 2021 I observed a few Bristol channel swim crossings and have often thought
about doing one myself. Being quite a slow swimmer and knowing the complexities of the channel
due to the enormous tidal range and sand banks and islands I knew it was not going to be easy.
I had to opportunity arise to swim on 11 th July 2022. The weather forecast was very good, but the
tide perhaps a little too big for me. The pilot plotted a course but was a little concerned. At around
9pm on the 10 th July I decided to give it a go. I had a pilot, crew and observer ready to go and the
forecast was good. How could I loose? If I failed to make Clevedon it would at least be a good
We met around 9am at Penarth Marina aiming to start the swim from the beach at Penarth just
before Lavernock Point an hour before low tide. I greased up and applied sunscreen on a very
warm, calm sunny morning. I entered the water and swam for the beach, that didn’t look far away.
After what seemed ages swimming, I still hadn’t reached the beach, head down I put a bit more
effort in and still didn’t seem to be much closer. At this point I wondered if I would even manage to
start! I did reach the beach eventually and negotiated some tricky rocks to clear the water stand up
and wave at the boat. Which now seemed a long way out. I heard the whistle, so very ungracefully
scrambled back over the rocks and started swimming. I was headed for Flat Holm. I was aware that
I needed to put the effort in for the first couple of hours to try and get across the Channel as much
as possible. So I put on my best pace without exhausting myself. I was enjoying the weather the
scenery and the fabulous sea conditions.
My biggest problem with anything taxing on my body is absorbing nutrition. I warned my crew that
it was possible I would suffer from sickness. I have to just get through it. Sian knows this and was
Time seemed to be flying by. But then time slowed as I didn’t seem to be getting past Flat Holm, I
knew this would happen, so tried to ignore this and comforted myself by the fact that although not
getting past Flat Holm I was going further up the Channel. Although the nagging doubt that I was
not getting over to the English Coast enough was in the back of my mind.
After a few feeds the inevitable happened and sickness swept over me. I tried water rather than the
cnp, then coca cola and a little chocolate, this helped, and I felt better. I was tired but no aches or
pains, my arms were still turning, and I was in a more relaxed swim than I was the first couple of
Weather and sea were just perfect apart from a sudden swell like tsunami which I assumed was from
a passing ship and a few rather nasty murky sludgy patches. I touched the odd jellyfish and bit of
seaweed now and again.
Eventually I could see Clevedon and very very slowly it got closer until I was in a bay full of people
enjoying the water and glorious conditions. I made my way to the Slipway and cleared the water. I
was then met on the slipway by a few swimmers including Alec Richardson who had done this swim
a few years before and written a book about it. Which I had read. It was so lovely to meet them.
Alec swam back to the boat with me and helped me aboard. I then dressed and we made our way
back to Penarth. I was told it took me 6 hour 49 minutes.
I was so glad I took the opportunity to go. I finished the day tired and happy. So thankful to my
crew, pilot and observer. Proof that long distance swimming is definitely a team sport