6 things that give Anna Wardley some happiness…

The other night, the local news was vying to get some attention, in the background, as Fred and I took part in our daily evening wrestle.

The object of the game, is for me to try to get Fred into his pyjamas, whilst he tries his best to wriggle away from me.

As Fred giggled and wriggled, I caught a sentence that made me stop wrestling and listen to the report.


They were covering the story of a woman, who’d swam 60 miles non-stop around the Isle of Wight in a time of 26 hours, 33 minutes and 28 seconds.

The lady was Anna Wardley.

Quite a feat in itself but what really got me was how Anna ate. She would be handed a zip lock bag of rice pudding (from her support team) which she’d suck through a pipe, as she swam.

This is not the first time Anna has attempted such a gruelling swim.

This swim is part of a five-island challenge and follows completed swims around the island of Dragonera off Mallorca, Portsea and Jersey, last year.

Anna abandoned her attempt to swim around the Isle of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides in August after she began hallucinating from the effects of the cold water, and was unable to breathe properly.

Money raised during the five-island challenge will go to the Samaritans, Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and Sail Africa, which offers sailing courses for young people in South Africa.

As I watched this report, with Fred jumping on my neck, I was truly awestruck.

Anna Wardley had just demonstrated what the human body and mind are capable of, when they’re pushed to their absolute limit.

Here are some of things that make Anna happy….


What’s one personal habit, you do everyday, that makes you happy?


The thing I do everyday that makes me happier is walking my dog, Deefa, who I adopted from the RSPCA’s Stubbington Ark five years ago.

We walk down at Stokes Bay, every day come rain or shine, and it’s great to get the fresh air and exercise, and spend some time away from the stresses of everyday life.


What’s your favourite book?


It’s a close call between Herman Hesse’s Narcissus and Goldmund and Pets with Tourette’s.

The first option is all about seeking meaning in life and the conflict between the thinker and the artist, a favourite book of one of my best friends, Anne-Sofie, who we lost a few years ago to an aggressive brain tumour.

The latter is just extremely funny.



What are you grateful for today?

My health, my friends, my mum, my dog Deefa and for everyone who has given up so much time to help me achieve my goals over the last few years.


What’s you favourite little pleasure?


My open log fire & my goose down duvet.

Which person do you think is inspiring and why?


My dear friend Colin de Mowbray, who we lost a few years ago, who lived with such passion, joy and humour, and supported so many people in achieving their dreams.


What one event has been the most memorable in your life and why?


Swimming round the Isle of Wight in September 2013.

I’d spent two years with my team preparing for it, and my whole support team gave up so much time and invested so much energy in the project, so getting round on my first attempt felt like such a huge accomplishment.

The high you get when all the hard work pays off beats any high you’d get from winning the lottery.


Is there something that’s happened to you, which at the time was seemingly negative but eventually turned out to be positive?


Not making it across the Channel on my first attempt in 2007.

I was swimming for 14.5 hours, and was pulled out of the water a couple of miles from the French coast suffering from exhaustion, shock and hypothermia.

I was slipping in and out of consciousness on the way back to Folkestone, and was hospitalised overnight.

At the time it crushed me as it shook my life philosophy that if you don’t give up, you’ll eventually get there.

But what I didn’t realise was that the journey was a bit longer than I thought at the time.

After a year without getting in the water, I decided to have another crack at it, spent a year training intensively and made it across on 28 September 2009 in 21 hours and 20 minutes.

The success tasted all the sweeter having not made it the first time.



Anna Wardley, 38, is an endurance swimmer based in Gosport, Hampshire.

She took up swimming in 2007 after reading an article about someone swimming across the Channel and decided she wanted to take on the same challenge.

Since then she has successfully swam the English Channel, the Gibraltar Straits, a 21-mile Double Windermere and the Hellespont Straits from Europe to Asia.

In 2012 she launched her Five Island Swim Challenge to cover 150 miles around the islands of Dragonera, Portsea, Jersey, Tiree and the Isle of Wight.

To date she has raised over £50,000 for charity through her swimming challenges.

Anna’s website: www.annawardley.com

Facebook: fiveislandswimchallenge

Twitter: @annawardley

Anna’s Linkedin profile.

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