Becalmed during an ocean voyage, hundreds of miles from land, I persuaded the captain to let me jump overboard for a swim. With over 4,000m of ocean beneath me I put on a mask and flippers and dived down to see what our boat looked like from below.
I only managed to swim a few metres down into the abyss before looking up, but I'll never forget just how tiny the boat appeared up there, with the sun shining down on her. The yacht seemed so far away up on the surface and I felt tiny, insignificant and alone, surrounded by the vast blue. For a few moments I experienced an unforgettable dizzy sensation like underwater vertigo. To experience the thrill of the open water all around you in this way, even just for a few moments, is hugely empowering. I believe that it is central to the open water swimming experience and something we’re aiming to include as part of each Iconic Swim. My own swimming journey began as a child in the chilly waters of Loch Lomond and completing countless laps of the pool at my Glasgow swimming club. As a teenager I moved above the water, took up oars and spent ten happy years racing rowing boats on the Thames, once representing Great Britain as a junior. In my twenties I raced yachts across the oceans before returning to swimming, this time as a marathon open water swimmer, culminating in 2007 with a solo English Channel crossing.
As a housemaster, rowing and swimming coach at a boarding school on the River Thames, I started a wild swimming club, taking groups of teenagers to swim in the Thames. In 2013 I helped prepare one of my students to complete his own solo Channel swim, and it was a privilege to have been in the water with him as he took his final few strokes to reach France.
After an enjoyable and fulfilling Geography teaching career I am now a full-time swim guide and coach, and also help my wife, Annabel, organise retreats at our New Forest home. Our Swimming for Health is being recommended by local medical practitioners.
As an experienced all-round waterman, with a passion for the marine environment and over thirty years’ experience as a teacher and coach of water sports, I set up Iconic Swims in order to use my aquatic skills to help others meet their personal challenges in the water.