In this guest post, Calum Hudson shares his love for “Wild Swimming” and the incredible adventures it’s brought to his brothers.
My name is Calum Hudson and swimming for me has always been an escape. In moments of stress or anxiety it has offered me a way to process my problems and I can feel coils of tension unwind as I swim onwards through the water. In times of happiness and joy it has given me some of the most unforgettable moments of my life.
My true love is outdoor swimming, or “Wild Swimming” as it has come to be known and I grew up in the Lake District, England swimming in the rivers and lakes with my big brother Robbie and little brother Jack. Over the years we drifted away from swimming, university took over, jobs ground us down and life got in the way.
In 2015 our family home was sold and as a way to say good bye we decided to swim all 90 miles, source to sea, of the River Eden which flowed past the bottom of our garden. I will never forget those 9 days as we swam mile after mile, joined by a ragtag motley crew of friends and family, towards the ocean and a final goodbye to our childhood, truly a Gold Medal Moment.
In the build up to the swim we embarked on a training expedition to prepare us for the challenge and I decided that it would be fun to swim across the Corryvreckan Maelstrom which lies off the West Coast of Scotland. Maelstroms are formidable bodies of water where opposing tides clash causing whirlpools, vortexes, eddies and fearsome currents rage.
Around 150 have made the 1.2 mile swim across and with an experienced ship captain it is safe enough… well as safe as whirlpool swimming can be! We made that swim in 21 minutes, crashing through 10ft high swells side by side as brothers crashing onto the rocks in high swells of Atlantic Ocean.
After that Gold Medal moment I became fascinated by maelstroms, were there other ones out there?
Had anyone tried to swim across them before?
Was it safe?
After weeks of research, trawling the internet and pouring through old maps I found out that there were 7 true maelstroms of which the Corryvreckan, which we’d swum, was the 3rd biggest. None of the other ones had ever been swum and no one had attempted them before. We named ourselves the Wild Swimming Brothers and set out to conquer the Maelstrom 7.
7 Biggest Maelstroms In The World
- Moskstraumen – Norway
- Saltrstraumen – Norway
- Corryvreckan – Scotland
- Te Aumiti – New Zealand
- Naruto – Japan
- Old Sow – USA
- Skookumchuck Narrows – Canada
In August 2016 after months of preparation and training the three of us set out to Norway to attempt to become the first ever people to swim across the Moskstraumen and Saltstraumen maelstroms in Norway. The problem? They were both located in the Arctic Circle, home to 600 Killer Whales, Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, 9 degree water and the strongest most dangerous currents on the planet.
The key here was preparation and timing, you have a very narrow window to make it across the maelstroms before the tides change and the currents become too powerful. The Salt would be a mad dash across the tidal strait with a 12 minute window to make it across whilst the Mosk would be a different beast, an 8km slog across fearsome underwater riptides and simultaneously the longest distance ever swim attempted in the Arctic Circle. Check out how we got on below.
After Norway we were pretty humbled to have become the first people to swim the 3 biggest maelstroms on the planet and swimming side by side across the maelstroms of the Arctic Circle, with Sea Eagles flying over head and colossal Lions Mane Jellyfish bobbing below was truly a Gold Medal Moment.
Our work isn’t yet done, we want to become the first people ever to swim across the 7 biggest maelstroms and we’re gearing up for our expedition to swim across Te Aumiti in New Zealand, this time the dangers are different, Great Whites and Tiger Sharks replace Killer Whales, but the rewards remain the same.
Every single swim with my brothers is my Gold Medal Moment.