Danny Longman’s record breaking Lake District swim

20th December, 2019

In August Danny Longman and Tom Elliott took on a gruelling challenge, to swim the length of all 13 publicly accessible lakes, linking them together by bicycle.

Their four day human-powered epic began from the southern end of Ullswater. Three and a half days and 71.0km (44 miles) of swimming later – straight lines were rarely possible – Danny Longman arrived at Borran’s Park near Ambleside, having swum Windermere in under 6 hours. Sadly, Windermere also finished off Tom’s hopes of fully completing their challenge as part way along the lake he withdrew.

Despite setbacks – Danny’s bike chain snapped and was repaired by a gallant effort from Haven Cycles in Whitehaven, who responded to an unexpected call at 7.00am – Danny broke the record. In his wetsuit, Danny swam 13 ‘waters’, ‘meres’ and one ‘lake’, setting a fastest known time record for this, and swimming purist Tom swam 12 dressed only in trunks, hat and goggles.

In order, the lakes included Ullswater, Brothers Water, Elterwater, Rydal Water, Grasmere, Derwent Water, Bassenthwaite Lake, Buttermere, Crummock Water, Loweswater, Wastwater, Coniston and Windermere.

Danny Longman said: “Although it did get a little tough at times, completing this challenge was a lot of fun.  Highlights included the heavens opening on Crummock water and visibility dipping to less than 10m, feeling the sun on my back swimming Coniston, and having a laugh with the incredible support crew.  I’m pretty new to swimming and had major shoulder surgery for a ruptured pec muscle earlier in the year, so I was made up to set a new Fastest Known Time.  It was particularly special to share the experience with my Dad, who was part of the support team. I’m very thankful to the medical teams involved in my recovery from these injuries, the support team and to our sponsors Huub, DryRobe and Tent Meals.”

Tom Elliott added: “We had found little evidence of attempts to swim the length of all the Lakeland lakes, with even fewer people attempting to complete this challenge in a short time; plus we planned to use human power to travel between the lakes. It presented an excellent opportunity.”

The support team, the force behind this challenge, kept the pair of swimmers on task: “I think I was more exhausted than Tom and Danny”, said Paul Flint. “Any thoughts of a fun in the sun experience were soon dispelled by 6.00am deadlines to get them in the water, safety kayaks lugged to and from shorelines, over 300 miles of driving, high energy drinks mixed to fuel the swimmers every half hour, and the depressing regularity of rain. The swimmers liked this as it flattened the waves, but the support crew were drenched. The challenge was a fantastic opportunity to develop close bonds within the team.”