Adventurer Ross Edgley was emotional as he became the first swimmer to complete a circumnavigation of Great Britain.
The 33-year-old was joined for the final kilometre of his 1,791-mile (2,883km), 157-day Great British Swim around the mainland by 300 fellow swimmers in Margate on Sunday.
Edgley left the Kent town on June 1, swimming in a clockwise direction, and his arrival on the beach was his first time on dry land since then.
In planning the adventure, he anticipated it would take 100 days and told his family “sorry I’m late” as they greeted him on Sunday alongside hundreds of others on the sand.
He admitted being a bit wobbly after five months either swimming or being on his support boat – and emotional, too.
The swimmer, from Grantham, Lincolnshire, told Red Bull TV: “I had to put my goggles on. I was getting really emotional.
“I thought I was going to fall over. And then I started running – that was a mistake. I was really wobbly.
“It feels a bit weird. Feels a bit too solid for my liking.”
Swimming up to 12 hours a day, including through the night, he has battled strong tides and currents in cold water, storms, jellyfish and swimming into winter.
His efforts have taken their toll on his body, including shoulder pain and wetsuit chafing.
Edgley’s odyssey was compared from the outset to the feat of Captain Matthew Webb, who in 1875 became the first person to swim the English Channel.
But, while more than 1,900 swimmers have since made the crossing, few are likely to follow in Edgley’s wake. Fifty-seven of the swimmers who joined him on Sunday morning have swum the Channel.
“That was unbelievable. You could hear them,” Edgley said of the swimmers.
“You won’t find many other sports where people will come out in November, five o’clock in the morning, just to swim out for a mile.
“That right there represented what I love about open water swimming. That was amazing.
“Because I’ve had my face in the water for so long now I didn’t know… I thought it was just going to be my mum and my dad with a pizza.”
His mantra on challenges is that one must be naive enough to start and stubborn enough to finish. He has shown stubbornness in spades.
Edgley was accompanied by Cornish sailor Matthew Knight, supporting from his catamaran Hecate.
He entered the Guinness Book of World Records on August 14, 74 days into the challenge, for the longest staged sea swim, according to the World Open Water Swimming Association.
But Edgley, then at the Isle of Skye, knew the record would only stand if he completed his journey to Margate. Eighty-three days later, he has.
Edgley has chronicled his journey on social media and weekly vlogs for Red Bull, which is backing the challenge, and he has gathered a large following of admirers.
It is Edgley’s latest record-breaking feat. In April 2016, he completed a rope climb equivalent to the height of Mount Everest in 19 hours, two months after taking on a marathon while pulling a car.