“If you want to create a picture of pure hell, I was in it, with the cross-waves throwing the jellyfish against me in the dark and giving me excruciating pain all over my body. It was like having hydrochloric acid thrown all over my body, layer after layer, as I got stings on top of stings on top of stings” said British endurance athlete Anna Wardley, describing the moment she was forced to abort her attempt to swim 37km solo between Menorca and Mallorca in the early hours of Thursday morning (19th May) after being bombarded by hundreds of jellyfish.
Anna Wardley was over 11 hours into her mammoth challenge when her support team pulled her out of the water after she went into shock due to a significant number of jellyfish stings, experienced convulsions and lost the use of her right arm.
Anna started the swim, which was expected to take in the region of 20 hours, on Tuesday afternoon at Cala’n Bosch in Menorca. The experienced endurance swimmer’s on-the-water support team comprised a total of 18 highly-experienced crew including a medic.
The 40-year-old, who was swimming through the night, had no protection from the jellyfish as she was wearing just a swimming costume, hat and goggles – in line with strict Channel Swimming Association rules.
A lifeboat was dispatched from Ciutadella, Menorca to the Menorca Channel and she was transferred at speed to the port of Ciutadella in Menorca where an ambulance was standing by to take her to hospital.
Anna described the experience as her ‘worst nightmare’, yet she was determined to press ahead for the sake of the three charities she’s raising money for; Joves Navegants, Marine Inspirations and Palma Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Programme.