Starting in the Hudson river in New York in April 2017 and ending in the Thames River in Central London, Michael's challenge is equivalent to swimming the length of Great Britain almost four-and-a-half times. Approximately 200 miles from the US coast he will use the powerful Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean to propel him from North America towards Europe. From there Michael will head towards Cornwall then follow the south coast of England passing Brighton and Dover and then will swim up the Thames Estuary and finish in the City of London.
Air and Sea Temperature
The surface temperature of the sea when leaving New York in April 2017 will be approximately 9°C and remain so for approximately 100 to 150 miles. The air temperature will then steadily rise from around 7 to 20°C as more weeks pass by and Michael enters the Atlantic summer months. 200 Miles from the start Michael will enter the Gulf Stream where the water temperature ranges from 23 to 26°C. When Michael enters the English Channel around September the water temperature will alternate between 15 and 19°C but steadily drop as the winter months approach. Michael will hopefully have reached London by the end of September.
The weather in the Atlantic can quickly change and is one of the biggest concerns for the expedition. The Atlantic can be wild and the ocean can turn from a flat mirror like surface to form towering waves in a matter of hours. Hurricanes are prevalent in the North Atlantic from June to November and this period each year is termed 'Hurricane Season'. Storms form in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea and move eastwards often tracking the Gulf Stream towards Northern Europe. These storms can bring winds well in excess of 100mph and pose a danger to shipping.
To mitigate the risk of encountering Hurricanes, Michael will set off from New York in early April 2017 to give the safest window of opportunity for crossing of the Atlantic. It is estimated that he should reach the coast of the United Kingdom by September thereby missing the brunt of the hurricane season.
It is expected that Michael and his team will still encounter extreme and unpredictable weather which may make it too dangerous to swim. During this time Michael and all his support crew will remain on the boat until such time that it is safe for him to return to the water and continue swimming.
Number of Months at Sea
5 to 8 Months
Approximate Swimming Distance
Daily Schedule and Swim Format
Every day for 5 to 8 months Michael will swim approximately 8 hours and cover between 14 and 18 miles when swimming outside of the Gulf Stream. Once inside the Gulf Stream the current may assist Michael to cover up to 40 miles on a typical day.
Michael will be adhering to the below daily routine:
- Breakfast at 6am
- Swim 7am to 9am
- Rest 9am to 10am
- Swim 10am to 12pm
- Lunch 12pm to 1pm
- Swim 1pm to 3pm
- Rest 3pm to 4pm
- Swim 4pm to 6pm
- Dinner at 7pm
- Sleep at 10pm
Michael will be burning up to 5000 calories each day and will therefore spend several hours ingesting high calorific and protein rich foods and liquids while resting on the support boat.
Michael will require:
2 x 75 to 150ft support vessels with all necessary satellite communications, navigational and safety systems installed. One primary support boat will host Michael and the crew and a second boat will assist with crew rotation and re-supply of food and fuel.
2 x Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs)
2 x Kayaks/Canoes
Crew (16 or more)
2 x Skippers
4 x Skippers mates
2 x Doctors
1 x Camerman / camerawoman
2 x Safety/Divers,
4 x Trained observers
1 x Media Representative
Michael will be using regular Speedos, swim cap and goggles as well as a wetsuit depending on environmental conditions. Michael may also wear an MP3 player and have radio communication with the crew whilst in the water. To reduce the effects of 'salt mouth' he may use a snorkel . In the event that the currents become too strong Michael may use fins for extra speed and propulsion.
Predatory species such as the Great White shark, which are present off the eastern coast of the USA, and the more prevalent Oceanic White Tip, which are present throughout the North Atlantic, pose a very real threat to his safety.
Michael is more concerned about Jellyfish. Portuguese Man of War and Lion's Mane Jellyfish will stick to anything they touch and cause an intense burning sensation and swelling of the skin and in some instances have been fatal.
Jellyfish tentacles may reach up to 30 metres in length and will be difficult to avoid whilst swimming. Michael will need to be taken out of the water by the crew and given immediate medical attention to neutralise any severe stings.
Swim Safety (Sharks and Orcas)
Michael will have a Sharkshield device attached to the RIB or canoe. The device is secured with a cable and submerged a couple of metres below the surface of the water. The Sharkeshield emits an electronic impulse that deters sharks up to a radius of 15 yards.
The support boat will also have sonar to detect animal movement beneath the surface of the water.