Swimmer to attempt 12km Sealand to Felixstowe crossing
PUBLISHED: 12:57 11 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:57 11 August 2018
A famous 'micro-nation' will provide the starting block for a swimming challenge that could put Richard Royal in the record books.
The brave swimmer is hoping to become the first person to ever to swim from the Principality of Sealand back to the UK - docking in Felixstowe.
Before embarking on the challenge Richard Royal plans to enter Sealand, an off shore platform located off the Felixstowe Coast which has been officially declared as an independent country, and get a stamp for his passport.
Richard, who lives in Hull, hopes to make the 12km (7.5 mile) swim across the North Sea in under six hours, swimming through water which averages temperatures of just 18C.
He will undertake the marathon challenge on August 20.
No stranger to marathon swimming challenges, Richard has previously swum from Alcatraz; taken part in an English Channel Relay and is due to compete at the European Masters Swimming Championships in Slovenia later this year.
He said: “It’s going to be a really challenging swim, with currents and tides it’s bound to be longer than 12km and that kind of distance non-stop in the North Sea is tough. I’ve been training to increase my endurance over longer distances in open water, but honestly the organisational side of this challenge has taken as much time than the actual swimming element so far.
“Prince Michael of Sealand has been extremely helpful and supportive and I’m hoping to be able to ‘enter the country’ and get my passport stamped before starting the swim.”
The Principality of Sealand is famously know as a ‘micro-nation’, it was originally built as a gun-tower fortress to defend shipping lanes during the Second World War, 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 lays 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.
Richard first became aware of Sealand and other micro-nations when he was a politics student. He has since harboured a great interest in them.
It has taken around two years to organise and gain the necessary permissions for the swim and to arrange for a pilot from East Anglia Sea School, based in Levington. 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).
Although Richard is taking the swim on as a personal challenge, supporters are welcome to donate to spinal injury charity Aspire, which is helping to provide support crew free of charge.
All expenses for the swim are paid for by Richard himself, so all donations go directly to the charity. Those interested in following Richard’s progress can do so on his Facebook page.