A 23-year-old endurance athlete has made history after becoming the first woman to swim the entire length of Britain.
Jasmine Harrison completed her grueling 900-mile (1448 km) challenge in 110 days when she swam into John O’Groats harbour yesterday (Oct 18) at 4.35pm.
And this time makes her the second fastest person ever to complete the crossing, behind Ross Edgley, who took 62 days, but in front of Sean Conway, who took 135.
The swimming instructor, who became the youngest woman to row solo across the Atlantic last year, battled 20ft waves and treacherous fork lightening during the journey.
And she was also forced to wear a padded balaclava after being stung up to 15 times by jellyfish, including two “memorable” strikes to the face.
Jasmine spent every night of her challenge aboard her 40ft yacht with five interchanging crew, surviving off a diet of “chocolate, sandwiches, and tinned meat”.
But despite her incredible hardship, the fearless competitor said she never considered giving up on the ground-breaking attempt.
She said: “There were some points where the weather was horrendous and it seemed like it wasn’t going to get any better, and I just thought we’re not going to get to the finish line if it stays like this.
“The worst was when we were swimming up to Mull of Kintyre. The waves were 20ft, they were massive – and there were gusts of 25 knots.
“But I wasn’t thinking of giving up at all – it was that I might be forced to give up at some point.”
Jasmine, from Thirsk, North Yorks., began her journey from Lands’ End, Cornwall, on July 1, before swimming up the West coast of Britain to John O’Groats.
And while she managed to cover 28km a day during her peak, she said the toughest aspect of her trip was her punishing hourly schedule, which was dictated by the tides.
She said: “The most challenging part is having to continuously swim for five hours and then get a couple of hours sleep and then swim again in the evening.
“I can’t rest when I’m swimming, because as soon as I stop for longer five minutes to catch my breath, the cold gets to me and then I won’t be able to carry on because I’m freezing.”
Jasmine has also been at the mercy of horrific weather conditions that severely hampered her progress as she headed towards Scotland.
She said: “When we were level with Northern Ireland, we got up to do a swim at 3.00 am and there was just fork lightening hitting not that far away.
“And when we were heading up to the Mull of Kintyre, that was really rough. The waves were just crashing straight over me and literally washing straight through my wetsuit.
“They would take me back quite a long way because they were coming at me rather than helping me. I couldn’t even try and surf them.”
Jasmine was also under constant threat from jellyfish and had adopt a wetsuit balaclava to protect her face half-way through her journey.
She said: “It’s not just the sting that hurts, it’s that it gets worse over 24 hours, and it basically just spreads up my legs and arms. It’s so itchy that I really don’t sleep.
“It was a lot less after I started wearing gloves and socks, but before that, I was stung probably ten or 15 times.
“I took two to the face, they’re memorable. That’s when I got the mask on.”
Jasmine spent her entire trip aboard her 40ft yacht, skippered by captain Anthony, 50, while surviving off a varied diet.
She said: “I’m eating on board quite a lot of chocolate, sandwiches and tinned meat. Mainly, it’s just anything that gets cooked up. But a crew cooks, or I cook.”
Besides her shipmates, the intrepid swimmer was also visited by different forms of sealife while out in the ocean.
She said: “I had a Minke whale literally swim with me for most of it, and it would literally rise five metres away, which was just incredible.
“I also had a lot of dolphins at the beginning, and they were literally swimming under me, so close I could touch them.”
She added: “The Whales are scary but so exciting and distracting as I needed to keep swimming.”
Jasmine said the epic journey had left her “more toned”, but admitted that her body, and especially her shoulders, constantly ached from the hard work.
She said: “My shoulders and my back have definitely got a lot more toned because I feel it as well – because they always ache.
“But I have no idea how I weigh. I’ve still got some fat on me, I’m not skinny.”