As the rest of the UK looks to return to normal one man from Chorley is to embark on an extraordinary adventure, writes Tom Foster.
Jordan Swift 28, is about to attempt the biggest challenge of his life, in the name of protecting our oceans. He is part of an elite group of four Royal Marine Commandos who are attempting to row the Atlantic Ocean from New York to London.
After leaving New York on May 18, they will be at sea for approximately 70 days, rowing two hours on, and two hours off, in pairs. If all goes to plan, they should arrive at the Tower of London around three months after setting off.
Should it be completed, their row will be a world record – no one has ever attempted the passage they are taking to cross the Atlantic.
Former Parklands High School student Jordan says: “The situation with our oceans is getting worse and worse, and for me, something has to be done about it. We are looking to raise awareness in any way we can. The rising levels of plastic in our oceans has now reached a critical point. Something has to be done about it.
“We are looking to raise as much money as we can for our two chosen charities, Plastic Oceans UK and the Royal Marines charity. We have also been touring the country in schools and colleges, raising awareness wherever we go. We recently entered into a partnership with Burnley College, and any more help and support would be fantastic. Several local businesses have also contributed, with Matthews and Leigh of Chorley being the main one.”
The magnitude of the challenge is also an attraction to Jordan and his fellow Marines. It is a chance to go down in the history books and the rowers hope the worldwide recognition this feat would achieve would go a long way to helping the world become more aware to the issues our oceans face.
Jordan, whose mum Stephanie Tiley, dad Mark Swift and girlfriend Dayna Bateman all live in Chorley, is a fitness fanatic, having represented Chorley Athletic and Triathlon in many running races and triathlons over the years.
He says: “I only started rowing six months ago. I’ve learned a lot in that period, but nothing can prepare me for this. I just hope all the conditioning I’ve put into my body over the years will pay off. Everyone thinks I’m crazy, but my family have been so supportive at the same time. I’m as nervous as can be, but I’m confident we can do it. It will be a great tale for the grandkids one day.”
Training for the row has been going on for several months and their boat, called No Great Shakes, has been shipped to New York where the team will pick it up and begin their final preparations before setting off.
During the period of the row, they will have two hours’ rest maximum at a time and will need to eat, sleep, and conduct any maintenance on the 27ft boat as required.
The boat has two compartments for the men to shelter and sleep in, however, there is no toilet or galley on board. The toilet is a bucket and the Marines will heat boiling water on board to warm up their dried food rations.
They will also be on their own for the whole period, so no supplies or support will be getting dropped off at any point. All food on board will be dried, and their water will be generated from converted sea water.
Every single day, they will roughly be in a 2,000-3,000 calorie deficit from the rowing, so taking on as much food as possible is essential. However, there are times when food and water are the least of their worries.
To ensure the row is possible, they will need to enter the Gulf Stream which is the cross Atlantic current which provides the United Kingdom with hot weather. The storms and hurricanes in this part of the ocean can be horrific.
Jordan says: “Most of the Atlantic is quite calm, so it would be almost impossible for us to row that long in calm water. So as scary as it sounds, we will need to enter in the storms and require the strong current to help push us along.”
If the storms do get too much, there will be nobody there to help them. There is no support boat alongside them and they are completely out there on their own. They will need to batten down the hatches and hope to ride the storm out.
If the situation does become too much, they will have to send a distress signal which will be received via satellite to Falmouth Coastguard which will then coordinate their rescue by directing any local shipping to their position. However, this isn’t as simple as it sounds.
Jordan, whose sister Jessie Swift is also a Marine, says: “If we do get caught in severe conditions, then it will be hard to get help. The nearest ships could be as much as two or three days away. In fact, at some stages, the closest people to us will be in the International Space Station. We will truly be out on our own out there.”
After a two week Covid isolation period in Antigua, they will be required to complete their quarantine in the US before they depart on May 18.
If you would like to donate to the cause, please visit the Ocean Revival Adventures website and social media pages below.
A link to the just-giving fund will be on there, or you can donate to the Royal Marine Charity and Plastic Oceans Charity directly.