William Ellis Hosts An Open Water Swimmer’s Podcast
William Henry Ellis, a British open water swimmer, prolific actor, and voice artist, hosts An Open Water Swimmer’s Podcast, Chartable #1 UK Swimming Podcast.
In his first two seasons, Ellis has interviewed a venerable Who’s Who of the Open Water Swimming World.
He describes the reason for his podcast, “Outdoor swimming is one of the fastest growing activities in the world, the benefits of which are well documented across many platforms and media. Each episode of this podcast, Ellis asks the same set of questions to his guests in order to hear their swim story, find out what the water means to them, and in doing so find the common ground between us all: the love of the water itself.”
His guests include swimmers from all walks of life including Olympians, comedians, journalists, masters athletes and winter swimmers. He summarized each episode:
2.5 John Doolittle (USA): Former Navy SEAL John Doolittle swam the English Channel in memory of his friend Neil Roberts who was the first SEAL killed in combat after 9/11; John continues to raise money for fallen and injured servicemen and their families through open water swimming (Tampa Bay Frogman Swim). We chat about all sorts on this one including shallow water blackouts, hammerhead breeding grounds and boxing Eagle Rays… a man who has been around the world many times over as a special forces operative, seen it and done it.
2.4 Cath Pendleton (UK): The Merthyr Mermaid Cath Pendleton answers the six questions of the podcast. This episode was recorded during full lockdown in February 2021 and hearing it back, the episode is full of hope that we might actually get to swim again…one day… Anyway, Cath has a Guinness World Record for the furthest northerly swim inside the Antarctic Circle and is on her way to conquering the Ice Sevens which is an Ice Mile on all seven continents.
2.3 Chris Bryan (Ireland): Chris Bryan answers quite beautifully the six questions; he raced on the FINA professional marathon swimming circuit for a number of years in the 10 km marathon swim event and went to FINA World Championships representing Ireland in that event for the first time. We chat about all sorts on this one, from having your own superpower to the temptations to swim the English Channel and the temptation to do a fast time.
2.2 Anna Wardley (Ireland): Anna Wardley is an endurance swimmer, a Churchill Fellow on a mission to improve support for children after suicide, a swim coach, and a really inspiring woman. She took up swimming later in life – deciding to swim the English Channel with virtually a year’s notice having only ever swam a kilometer before. We talk about swimming through grief, self-worth and losing consciousness through jellyfish stings. It was so rich in content and really connected with me on many levels.
2.1 Colin Hill (UK): Colin Hill is one of the most important people in the open water swimming world. He set up ChillSwim in 2013 which hosts open water swims all across the beautiful Lake District. He also works closely with FINA to bring the elite marathon swimming events to social media and TV. He has a long list of open water swimming accolades (including dodging blue sharks in Madeira). He was the first official UK male Ice Mile swimmer and is widely recognized as one of the key figures to organize the Olympic 10km Marathon Swim to London’s Serpentine; and swims, coaches and guides near his home in Ullswater.
1.12 Sarah Thomas (USA): It was a privilege to be able to speak to Sarah Thomas who became the first and only person to have completed a four-way English Channel crossing in 2019, a swim that took her 54 hours. She also holds the record for the longest unassisted swim: in 2017 she swam the 168.3 km across Lake Champlain in a staggering 67 hours 16 minutes. Sarah was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2017, shortly after this record-breaking achievement; once in remission, not to be deterred, it was then she fulfilled her goal of swimming the four-way English Channel. Her accomplishments in ultra marathon swimming are jaw dropping and it was a delight to be able to share this chat with you. She is humble, yet superhuman, and I am grateful for her time in closing Season One.
1.11 Eddy Temple-Morris (UK): It was an absolute joy to be able to chat to DJ, radio broadcaster and Wim Hof devotee Eddy Temple-Morris. Not only is Eddy a passionate advocate of the sea and all that lives within it, he is also a patron of the charity My Black Dog, a charity close to his heart that deals with anyone who needs help with their mental wellbeing. He started Wim Hof a number of years ago as a way to improve his mental state, and now he is an ardent proponent of its benefits. We chat about swimming pools in Iran, Resveretrol, being chased by triggerfish, and how the water wants to kill you.
1.10 Paul Newsome (Australia): It was a real treat to be able to speak to Swim Smooth founder Paul Newsome from his base in Perth, Australia. If you are interested in improving your stroke at all, then I can highly recommend Swim Smooth as being able to assist (although you won’t have to travel to Perth to do so, I promise). We chatted about winning the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, David Walliams, “Men’s Sheds”, and Sunday swims with Chris amongst other things.
1.9 Tim Donovan (Australia): I fire the six questions at all-round nice guy Tim Donovan. He achieved the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming (English Channel, Catalina Channel, and Manhattan Island Marathon Swim), having grown up in Perth, Australia. We talk about finishing swims when they go bad, friendship, consistency, doing the things you love and having zero fear… apparently that’s a thing.
1.8 Karlyn Pipes (USA): Karlyn Pipes is one of the most decorated masters swimmers of all time having set 233 FINA World Records at Masters Level (33 of which still stand). She was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2017 and is the author of The Do Over, her autobiography telling the story of her struggles with addiction while at the same time being a swimming prodigy and Olympic hopeful. Her recovery and subsequent swimming accolades are riveting to read or listen to – both in and out of the pool. She is also a motivational speaker and swimming coach, teaching her Faster Freestyle clinics around the world every year. It made for a compelling and brilliant chat, and I was fortunate enough to have some of her time from her home in Hawaii.
1.7 Simon Griffiths (UK): It was so lovely to chat to Outdoor Swimmer magazine founder Simon Griffiths. He is not only a very rapid masters swimmer, but has also recently taken up river swimming all year round during the pandemic. He set up the magazine ten years ago in response to the fact that open water swimming was growing at a rate of knots, and ten years later his publication is going from strength to strength. We talk Africa, Google and how to keep rowers happy on the Thames.
1.6 Tommy Kay (UK): This episode’s guest is a conservationist, surfer, open water swimmer, and all-round ocean lover. Tommy Kay is arguably the nicest man you will meet to set up a cold water surf brand. He set up his brand Finisterre to marry this love of the sea with everything the brand encompasses. He has never deviated from his core values despite being tempted to do so by big business along his 15-year journey with Finisterre. The romanticism he has with the ocean is lovely to listen to, and his answers to the six questions are quite unique.
1.5 Jaimie Monahan (USA): It was such a treat to be able to speak to Jaimie Monahan from her home in New York City. She has completed the 28.5-mile swim around Manhattan Island 27 times, including the only quadruple in 45 hours 24 minutes – just a few weeks after swimming it seven times in seven days. She is known as the Queen of Manhattan and is also known as the Queen of the Ice having become the first person to swim an Ice Mile on all seven continents, including one of the coldest Ice Miles ever recorded. She’s a Triple Crowner and in 2019 completed six marathon swims on six continents in 16 days. She’s achieved so much – and I don’t think she’s finished yet.
1.4 Kath Ferguson (UK): It was a delight to be able to interview the wonderful Kath Ferguson. Kath set up Sea Birds in 2017 as a Community Interest Company to take people into the water and make swimming accessible to all. Kath’s work using the sea as a way to improve both her own and other’s mental wellbeing has generated waves of support from all who dive into the Seabirds world.
1.3 David Walliams (UK): I was very lucky to be able to chat to actor, comedian and best selling children’s author David Walliams. We spoke about James Bond’s flippers & mask, swimming with pilot whales, seasick parents, unaffordable houses along the Thames and Sport Relief among other things.
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