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Former county cricketer finishes round-the-island swim

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Dockyard in sight: Elliott Wilson seen from the air as he ploughs through the water to Dockyard on the last leg of an around-the-island swim (Photograph by James Doughty)

A former professional athlete overcame a fear of sharks to complete a round-the-island swim at the weekend.

Elliott Wilson emerged from the water at Royal Naval Dockyard after completing the last of 32 legs in the marathon venture, a 68-minute swim from Spanish Point, last Friday.

Mr Wilson said: “It was incredible. I was quite apprehensive about today’s swim because some days it looks pretty scary.

“But I was very surprised – today’s swim was easy. I had a little bit of a current behind me, and it wasn’t that rough.

“I’m just delighted, really.”

Friday’s swim was in sharp contrast to Thursday’s 70-minute effort from Cooper’s Island to Tucker’s Town.

He said: “That was pretty intimidating, a tough swim, a lot of swell.”

Mr Wilson said finishing the final leg provided a “definite sense of achievement”.

The 44-year-old British national is the chief executive of a wealth management firm.

A former professional cricketer with English county side Worcestershire the 6ft 3in’, 230lb sportsman moved to the island in 2018 after he married Tiffany, who is Bermudian.

Mr Wilson splits his time between the island and Britain.

He said: “The ocean here is just beautiful – doing this swim is the way I got to know Bermuda. It has been a pleasure.”

Mr Wilson began his journey in December 2018, with a 47-minute swim from Shelly Bay into Flatts, getting an early taste of what was to come when he had to battle against the tide.

He completed five swims before the end of that year, swam 16 legs in 2019, and wrapped up his journey with 11 swims this year, including five since last Saturday.

The swims ranged from 28 minutes in length to two hours, 17 minutes.

All were completed without back-up from a support boat.

Most legs took place after work as Mr Wilson, an early riser, got a full day in at the office before he left work mid-afternoon.

For each swim, Mr Wilson said he wore a swim cap, snorkel and mask, watch, long-sleeve rash vest to protect against sunburn and Portuguese man-of-war, and rash trousers or shorts for the swims.

He admitted problems included “controlling the fear, the panic”.

Mr Wilson said: “I was in situations where I could have panicked. I was at the end of a swim, I was very tired, got hit by a current, and couldn’t guarantee that I could get by a headland.

“At those moments, the number one thing to do is never panic.”

He added: “A couple of the toughest swims were a privilege because of the challenge.”

Mr Wilson kept a diary throughout, with his wariness about the danger posed by sharks a regular feature.

He said: “I stopped the swim at one time because the shark thing was on my mind.

“I was swimming and constantly looking around me. That was not fun, so I stopped.

“As time passed, I forgot how scared I was, and resolved to get back in the water.”

Mr Wilson added: “There is not a large shark risk, but it does play on your mind.

“But I looked at history, and how many people have been eaten by sharks in Bermuda – none. It was more dangerous driving home after the swim than the swim.”

But Mr Wilson said he had a “very close call” during a swim from Daniel’s Head to Mangrove Bay in August when two jet skiers who were part of a group nearly hit him.

He added they appeared to be unaware apparently he was in the water, despite a bright pink swimming cap and an inflatable orange buoy he dragged behind him.

Mr Wilson said another jet skier spotted and warned others in the group to slow down.

Mr Wilson’s diary also detailed the underwater world, including seeing a barracuda, black grouper, parrot fish, turtles, and a school of about 50 “silver coloured fish two feet long”.

He wrote after a 72-minute swim from Church Bay to Whale Bay Beach last November: “Beautiful swim. More fish than any other swim. Flat. Clear water. Beautiful boiler coral reefs. Safe swim as shallow even though mainly cliffs.

“Got out at Church Bay early evening and watched an incredible God-inspired sunset. Bermuda is such a beautiful place.”

High spirits: Elliott Wilson celebrates after completing Friday’s swim to Royal Naval Dockyard (Photograph by Duncan Hall)
Getting close: Elliott Wilson in Dockyard after his swim from Spanish Point to Dockyard (Photograph by Duncan Hall)
Project complete: swimmer Elliott Wilson after finishing the 32nd and final leg of his project (Photograph by Duncan Hall)
Final leg: Elliott Wilson after finishing Friday’s swim from Spanish Point to Royal Naval Dockyard (Photograph by Duncan Hall)

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Published November 16, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated November 16, 2020 at 9:09 am)

Former county cricketer finishes round-the-island swim

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