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Daredevil completes round-the-island swim

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An exhausted Sarah Eismann after she completed a 31-hour, 63km, non-stop circumnavigation of Bermuda (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

An actress took a bow yesterday after finishing a gruelling 31-hour swim around Bermuda.

Sarah Eismann completed the 63-kilometre non-stop attempt at Gates Bay in St George’s on the day before her 40th birthday.

Ms Eismann, from New York, said she was “swollen and pruney” but happy to have achieved her goal.

She added: “That was the hardest, the most challenging thing I have ever done in my entire life.

“We finished south side just as the sun was going down [Tuesday]. The night was very scary because I couldn’t see the boat very well. We had to hang a bunch of glowsticks on the side.”

Ms Eismann’s online tracker recorded her swim as 62.9km, which took her 31 hours, 34 minutes.

The epic open-water swim was the culmination of a year-long Swimming for Shakespeare campaign.

Ms Eismann said she wanted to support Shakespeare Behind Bars, a programme designed to help rehabilitate prisoners through theatre. She set out on her voyage about 5.30am on Tuesday, diving off the boat Miss Katie off Fort St Catherine, on the northeastern tip of St George’s Island.

Her father, Roy Eismann, and several friends were on board the boat which shadowed her on her marathon swim. Mr Eismann said when his daughter told him she wanted to swim around the island he thought she was crazy.

He said: “Over the last three years, she has been doing marathon-type things — Ironmans, half Ironmans — but I still thought she was crazy.”

Mr Eismann said he and others on the boat became concerned near the end of the swim after her lips and eyelids began to swell.

He said: “We started Goo-gling the possible outcomes of the swelling. We were worried about her tongue swelling up.

“There was a constant concern since the morning when we could actually see her.”

Mr Eismann said he was extremely relieved for the feat to have his daughter safely back ashore.

He said: “From a dad’s point of view, I just wanted my daughter safe, but the fact that she accomplished this was amazing.”

James Adams of In Depth Bermuda Ltd said he didn’t initially realise the scope of what Ms Eismann wanted to do when he agreed to guide her with the Miss Katie.

He said: “I actually didn’t think it would take as long as it did. I don’t think I realised how big of an ordeal it is. That’s a lot of swimming. It’s a long way. It’s hard enough to sit in the boat that long.”

Ms Eismann is not the first to fully circumnavigate the island, but she is in a very elite group.

Seán O’Connell was the first to complete the feat in 1976.

He later detailed the 43-hour marathon swim in his book Shark Bait: How I Battled Tides, Fins and Fatigue to Complete the First Non-stop Swim Around Bermuda.

American open-water swimmer Lori King successfully broke Dr O’Connell’s record in 2016, swimming counterclockwise around the island in 21 hours.

Sarah Eismann (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Sarah Eismann with the crew of the Miss Katie at Gates Bay, St George’s, after her 31-hour around the island swim