With extraordinary determination, anti-plastic pollution campaigner Oly Rush has arrived in Studland, completing his challenge of swimming the length of the Jurassic Coast in order to raise funds and awareness of the damage that we are doing to our planet.
Partnered by Clean Jurassic Coast founder, Roy Beal in his kayak, the pair finished the marathon challenge around lunchtime on Friday 4th September 2020 at Middle Beach in Studland.
Nine days of swimming to get to Old Harry Rocks
They started at Orcombe Point near Exmouth, the most westerly point of the Jurassic Coast on Tuesday 25th August 2020 and it took Oly nine days of swimming to get to Old Harry Rocks, the most easterly point of the Jurassic Coast. Frustratingly for the team, they had to stop for one day due to unsuitable sea conditions.
“The shoulders were crying out but we kept going”
Oly made good progress every day and on the 22 kilometre, Ringstead to Chapman’s Pool stretch, he was swimming 100 metres in an impressive 1 minute 8 seconds. In Studland, speaking just after he finished, he said that actually the last stretch was the trickiest:
“Today was the hardest swim of all of them, which we were thinking was going to be the easiest swim. There’s spring tides today, so we thought it was going to be a super quick swim but we got caught in a bit of an eddy by Winspit and we were almost swimming backwards for about an hour, so the shoulders were crying out but we kept going and pushed through and we’re here!”
“I almost wanted to keep swimming really”
He added that the sight of the Old Harry Rocks was emotional:
“As soon as we could see Old Harry Rocks, then it was like – oh we’re nearly there now, so it was a mixture of emotion – so on one hand it’s obviously a bit of a relief that I can get on the beach and rest the shoulders and we’re done. On the other hand, it’s quite sad as it’s been such good fun. I almost wanted to keep swimming really – so mixed emotions!”
“It was a successful mission!”
In his kayak, Roy Beal provided support and encouragement to Oly, as well as checking the tides and planning the route. He said:
“I was under pressure to get it right. I let the coastguard know what we were doing when we started and I’ve just radioed them to let them know that we’ve safely completed our trip. Fortunately, we had no need to contact the lifeboat and I still have an unused distress flare – so I’d say it was a successful mission!”
Oly Rush was greeted in Studland by his mother, Gill Green and fiancee, Tessa Cox
“He is so determined”
Also helping out behind the scenes has been Oly’s mother, Gill Green, who has met him at every stage of the swim. She said:
“What he’s achieved is absolutely amazing. I knew he would do it physically but also he’s really driven. He has sometimes come home from Chapman’s Pool crying after seeing all the rubbish that people have just carelessly left. He is so determined.”
So far they’ve raised well over £5,000 and the money will be shared by two charities – Clean Jurassic Coast and Go Pladdle, to allow them to continue with new projects to help find solutions to the single use plastic problem, as well as litter collection , education and research. Clean Jurassic Coast is also hoping to buy a boat that will help them collect rubbish in the harder to reach, smaller coves.
Roy Beal and Oly Rush after completing the challenge
“I’m a big ocean advocate”
But it’s not all about raising money. Oly explained why he decided to take on the challenge:
“It’s about raising awareness about plastic pollution in the oceans and generally just the way we are treating the planet to be honest. I’m a big ocean advocate. I’ve always been into surfing. I love the ocean and in the last four maybe five years, I’ve become more aware of plastic pollution and I just wanted to do something to raise a bit of awareness and hopefully make a difference.
“We go out probably, maybe two of three times a week, doing little beach cleans and in the winter more so down at Chapman’s Pool – it really does wash in there, so that’s where it all began really.
“I don’t get angry with the stuff that’s not obviously been left there, but when we go down to beaches such as Durdle Door and it’s been left there deliberately by people who should know better and they just leave it behind, then yeah, I do get a little bit angry to be honest!”
Rubbish left at Durdle Door
“It’s very upsetting to see something being spoiled”
The Jurassic Coast is my playground and it’s very upsetting to see something being spoiled. That’s why I founded Clean Jurassic Coast. We’ve now built up a big team and it’s important to take action for the sake of future generations. We really need to do our best to educate people about why plastic is so bad for the environment.”
To support Oly’s swim the Jurassic Coast challenge, donations can made via his fundraising page
Watch the film of the swim
This video was filmed and edited by Lee Cooper
For further information
Clean Jurassic Coast is an initiative to keep the place tidy. From quick beach cleans to all-day clean up operations and kayak trips to clear rubbish from small coves.
GoPladdle is a community interest company based in Poole that organises beach cleans and has collected over a tonne of rubbish, including thousands of plastic bottles.