Outdoor Swimmer Richard Royal becomes the first person ever to swim from the ‘World’s smallest country’ – the Principality of Sealand, located in the North Sea 12km (7.5 miles) off the east coast. Richard is the first person to attempt and complete the daring swim from the offshore platform back to the mainland. He began the swim at 11am on Monday 20th August and finished in just 3hrs 29mins, much faster than his predicted 4-6 hours, establishing a record that others will struggle to break.
The Principality of Sealand is one of the world’s most famous ‘micro-nations’. Located off the coast of Felixstowe, it was originally built as a gun-tower fortress to defend shipping lanes during World War II, during which time it was home to up to 300 Royal Navy personnel. It was decommissioned in 1965 and subsequently occupied by a pirate radio station. As it lay outside of the UK’s 6km borders and therefore fell within international waters, its occupants declared it an independent country, a claim furthered by a 1968 legal case which ruled that it was not subject to UK jurisdiction. Sealand has since introduced its own flag, currency, stamps and national anthem.
Before beginning the swim he boarded Sealand via their mechanical winch (the only way on and off), got his passport stamped and had a cup of tea with Sealand citizens, prior to entering the water directly from their ‘land’. He was monitored by a safety boat from East Anglia Sea School and was thrown ‘feeds’ of water, bananas and energy gels every 45 minutes. The event took around two years to organise, gain the necessary permissions and arrange for a local pilot to skipper an accompanying safety boat.
The swim is expected to be accredited by the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) and British Long Distance Swimming Association (BLDSA). Richard is also raising money for spinal injury charity Aspire, having first discussed the idea when training in Dover for a Channel Relay swim for them.