a man who has swum not only the English Channel, but also around the island of Manhattan, New York; across the Catalina Channel, off the coast of California, and around the island of Koh Tao, Thailand, decided it was time to give back to swimming and help the children from deprived areas of the world to swim, he did so in a big way.
From the long swims and travelling around the world, Bryan discovered that many children living in poorer communities by the water didn’t know how to swim. The ultra-marathon swimmer decided he’d better figure out how to teach them and whilst he was at it, he decided to incorporate local conservation efforts into the agenda too.
My Swimming History
May 2016 – present day – founded SwimTayka
I set up SwimTayka as I am driven to help poor children in poor communities around the world, learn to swim. I tried to find a charity that already existed that we could support, but found there were none that focused purely on swimming and giving free lessons in poor communities. And so SwimTayka was born! Currently setting up our inaugural project in Huanchaco, northern Peru, SwimTayka is working with an established NGO there to work with 20 children ages 3 – 16 years of age. In just a few weeks we have children confident with techniques to prevent drowning and loving every minute of it. Their sheer joy and realising they can swim now (or almost swimming in some cases) is what makes this all worthwhile and I have been truly humbled by this experience.
April 2016 – Swimming from the Sun to the Moon – Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
This swim was set in the world’s highest navigable lake – Lake Titicaca which straddles the border between Peru & Bolivia. It was only 7km but it was a grueling swim as we were at 3,813m above sea level – that’s just over 12,500 feet (or 2.3 miles) and the air was very thin. Although the distance wasn’t as far as my other swims, to-date this was definitely my hardest.
January & February 2016 – Volunteer Swimming Teacher – Huanchaco, Peru
I spent two months in this volunteer programme teaching young children from a shantytown on the outskirts of the town, to swim. Huanchaco lies on the northern coast of Peru and is the birthplace of surfing. The poor community cannot afford swimming lessons for their children and this sea poses a risk to them as the waves are constant all year round, perfect for surfing – not for swimming. I wrote a teaching programme that encouraged confidence and fun in the water. Twice a week I took the older children to a proper pool in a nearby town and developed some swimming skills which they in turn can pass onto the younger children after I had left. In this way, their abilities developed so more job opportunities open up to them (eg in the surf shops) when they are older, as well as giving them a life skill.
October 2015 – Catalina Channel – Los Angeles, USA
Following on from my success around Manhattan, this was to be the last swim in the Three Crowns Challenge. At just over 20 miles, the challenge for me here was not the distance, but the fact that most of this swim would be completed at night and that the sea on the night I completed it, was very choppy. However I overcame this and managed to finish in just under 13 hours.
August 2015 – Manhattan Island Swim – New York, USA
This was the second of the Three Crowns Challenge – The English Channel being the first. The swim is 28 ½ miles around Manhattan Island. The challenges here are the dirty waters of the East River if it has been raining and the choppy churning waters of Hell’s Gate where the east River meets the Harlem River. If you get stuck there it can take a long time to just go nowhere! Luckily, I was through here before the tide changed and the currents held me and I completed the swim – Official time 08:29:54
June 2015 – Around the Island Swim – Koh Tao, Thailand
This swim was in aid of Project Aware’s “Start Swimming – End Shark Finning” campaign. As this water was much warmer than I am used to, the challenge on this swim was going to be to keep hydrated enough. And to keep my eyes open for sharks – the very ones I was swimming to protect! Thanks to my fabulous crew from the Coral Grand Dive School, I made it to the end intact in 7hrs 56 minutes.
September 2013 – English Channel Swim, England to France
Without doubt, this was the biggest swim of my life and I spent a year training for it. This swim posed many challenges as I had never completed anything like this before. Not only did I have to find the energy reserves to keep going for such a long way, but I encountered jellyfish and strong currents which carried me up and down the coastlines of England and France. Official time 14 hours 29 minutes. Total distance 32 miles.
September 2010 – River Dart 10km Swim, Devon, England
This was my first river swim and I loved it. It was whilst completing this swim I realised my real passion of swimming in general, lay in outdoor, cold water swimming.