Lowenna North - Eddystone to Plymouth
Eddystone Rocks to Plymouth Hoe
22.1 km (13.7 miles)
11 hours, 31 minutes on 11 July 2022
Observed and documented by Neil Brinkworth
Youngest to swim route
- Name: Lowenna North
- Gender: female
- Age on swim date: 15
- Nationality: Great Britain
- Resides: Launceston, Cornwall, England
|Size Matters||commercial diving vessel, 45-ft||Plymouth|
- Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
- Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
- Equipment used: One-piece Huub ladies swimsuit, silicone swim cap, ear plugs, Huub goggles.
- Body of Water: Plymouth Sound, English Channel
- Route Type: one-way (channel)
- Start Location: Eddystone Rocks & Lighthouse (50.18087, -4.26564)
- Finish Location: Plymouth Hoe steps, west of Tinside Lido (50.36386, -4.14423)
- Minimum Route Distance: 22.1 km (13.7 miles) (map)
LongSwimsDB: Eddystone Rocks.
Also see, Neil Brinkworth’s swim of same route in 2020.
- Start: 11 July 2022, 08:02:00 (British Summer Time, Europe/London, UTC1).
- Finish: 11 July 2022, 19:33:05
- Elapsed: 11 hours, 31 minutes, 5 seconds.
Summary of Conditions
|Water Temp (C)||16.2||17.3|
|Air Temp (C)||19.8||23|
|Wind (knots)||3 / SE||14.8 / SE|
Trackpoint frequency: 20 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).
Also see: Nautical chart
By Neil Brinkworth
James, Lowenna’s father put a message out to us all on the 9th July that Lowenna’s swim would be going ahead on the 11th July. He asked us to all meet at the Marina for 0600 with ‘ropes off’ at 0630.
I arrived at the Marina shortly before 0600 on the 11th July, Lowenna, James and Vicky arrived shortly after. Lowenna was nervously excited, but had a big smile on her face.
As they unloaded the van they chatted about what the day might have install for Lowenna and commented on the glorious weather we had been having lately.
Ben, the boat pilot arrived shortly after as we waited for Andrew and Billy to arrive. James asked if I had spoken to Andrew and was worried that him and Billy might be late. We all joked about Andrew being fashionably late or having to go on one of his detours. With that he and Billy turned up and James could relax again.
Ben suggested that we should head to the boat, so we could get everything loaded up and get under way.
06:27 we cast off leaving the Marina, the morning was absolutely stunning, clear blue skies over Plymouth Sound and out to sea with hardly a breeze across the water.
Ben calls us all into the wheel house and talks us through the facilities on the boats and all the necessary safety procedures.
He explains about the route that we are going to take out to the Eddystone Lighthouse will be the same route that Lowenna will be following when she swims back. The intention is to use the eastern entrance of Plymouth Sound to avoid the major shipping lanes and hopefully not have any hold ups due to shipping movements.
Ben wants to get Lowenna in the water for an 0800 start.
There are 6 people of the boat, Ben the boat pilot, James – Lowenna’s father, Vicky providing kayaking support, along with Andrew and Billy her support crew and myself as the observer.
As we head out everyone is chatting, taking photos and enjoying the views of Plymouth from the sea.
06:56 Lowenna is applying sun cream, it’s going to be a hot day today!
07:10 Vicky serves up tea for everyone and Lowenna is having a hot pot of porridge oats and a banana.
07:11 Ben calls into the Long Room (Queens Harbour Master (QHM)) and is informing them of his intentions / route of Lowenna’s swim. QHM gives Ben the ‘OK’ to proceed and informs him of the daily shipping moments, Ben is happy there won’t be any conflict.
07:40 The Eddystone Lighthouse is becoming more prominent on the skyline. Ben says were about 15 mins away from the Eddystone so Lowenna and her crew start to get themselves ready, Lowenna is applying generous helpings of sun cream and sudocrem, whilst Vicky is preparing herself to get into the kayak for the start of the swim.
As we get closer, Ben starts to maneuver the boat as close as possible to the rocks of the Eddystone reef. There’s a quick opportunity for the crew to take some photos of the lighthouse.
07:52 Lowenna is making her final preparations and having a quick drink of water, her long waited Eddystone swim is almost over.
07:58 Ben assists Vicky with launching the kayak off the back of the support boat ‘Size Matters’.
08:00 Ben uses the diving lift to lower Lowenna into the water, Lowenna starts swimming to the stump/base of the old lighthouse with Vicky in the kayak escorting her.
Photo 1 - Lowenna getting ready to be lowered into the water - 0800
There’s a lot excitement on the boat as Lowenna swims off!
08:02 Lowenna touches the rocks and is given the call to ‘start swimming’, Lowenna starts swimming back to Plymouth!
Water Tempature 16.4° Air Tempature 20°
Just as Lowenna starts to swim a big seal pops its head up about 10 meters in front of her, I don’t think she realizes it’s there.
She is now swimming in the shadow of Eddystone Lighthouse, Vicky is beside her in the kayak.
Ben the pilot plots a course heading eastwards towards the Shag Rock just off Plymouth to counter the wind and tide.
08:15 A few compass jellyfish are spotted, but Lowenna doesn’t seem to have noticed them, she has settled into her pace and is breathing bi-laterally.
08:22 Stoke rate is 60, wind seems to be picking up, white tops are forming on the crests of the waves/swell.
08:37 Stroke rate is 59
08:50 James starts preparing Lowenna’s first feed, Carbpro, shot of fruit shoots and 300ml of warm water.
08:58 Ben just informs us that we have this wind now for at least the next 4 hours before it starts to ease.
08:59 Shout goes out “Ok to feed swimmer” James throw the feed line to Lowenna, she takes the feed and drinks it all, everything is oaky with the swimmer.
09:03 Ben helps retrieve Vicky and the kayak back on board the boat, once the kayak is stowed and Vicky safely back onboard, Ben brings us back alone side Lowenna. Andrew keeps ‘eyes’ on the swimmer at all times. Ben brings us back on course in that brief moment we were push off course by the wind and tide
09:06 Sea Temperature 16.6° Air Temperature 23° Wind speed 10 knots gusting 20 Knots - SE
09:08 Stroke Rate 59
09:20 Billy has decided to feed the seagulls in pursuit of his sandwiches!
09:26 Andrew is leaning over the boat filming Lowenna swimming using his GoPro on a telescopic pole
Photo 2 - Andrew filming Lowenna - 0926
09:44 James starts to prepare Lowenna’s 2nd feed, whilst Andrew is filming her swim. We have two warships in the distance carrying out maneuvers.
09:58 Lowenna appears to stop and look up as if she’s expecting her feed to appear but carries on swimming.
10:00 James calls to Lowenna and throws her feed to her, same feed as the 1st feed Carbpro, shot of fruit shoots and 300ml of warm water. James asks her if she is ok? She replies that she has just been stung by a jellyfish and has been for a wee.
10:03 Sea Temperature 16.8° Air Temperature 20.9° Wind speed 13.9 Knots Stroke Rate 59
The wind and tide are still pushing us westward, Ben has adjusted his course to head more easterly towards the Mewstone Rock.
10:20 Vicky is laid out in the sun across the seat’s, she’s exhausted from her triathlon the day pervious, kayaking beside Lowenna and is feeling a bit seasick.
10:37 The crew is giving Lowenna lots of support, clapping and cheering. Ben says we averaging as speed of 1.3 knots. Every now and again Lowenna gets caught by a slightly larger wave that the rest, but she just ignores it and keeps on swimming a consistently, not fazed by the conditions.
10:50 It’s that time already, James starts making up another feed for Lowenna, same as the other two, Carbpro, shot of fruit shoots and 300ml of warm water.
11:00 Lowenna is just taking her 3rd feed, said she feels fine and doesn’t want anything to eat on her next feed, just a drink.
Photo 3 – Lowenna taking a feed – 11:01
11:03 Sea Temperature 17° Air Temperature 21° Wind speed 10.4 knots - SE Direction
11:10 Stroke Rate 57
11:30 Lowenna stops to look up, but carries on swimming.
11:44 Wind, waves and swell seem to have abated, stroke rate has dropped to 53
11:48 James is preparing her 4th feed, same as previous but he’s going to offer her some jelly babies and sausage rolls as a pick me up! As he’s noticed a slight slowing in her pace.
12:00 James and Andrew throw Lowenna her feeds, two separate feed line, one with a drink the other with a container with the jelly babies and sausage rolls. The feed seems to be very slow, taking nearly 3 minutes, as Lowenna takes the liquid and solids but takes time to puts the lids back on all the containers!
12:04 Sea Temperature 17° Air Temperature 21.8° Wind speed 9.6 Knots - SE Direction
12:06 Andrew suggests to James that its best to give Lowenna a 10 minute and 5-minute hand signal count downs to her feeds.
12:10 Stroke Rate 55
12:13 Reported wind in Plymouth Sound 15 Knots
12:23 Lowenna has just stopped to be sick, she says she is ok and carries on swimming.
12:29 Stoke Rate 54
12:35 Lowenna stops momentarily, but carries on swimming again.
12:45 Coffee is being made and served up to the crew, seems the observers work is never done!
12:46 James is making up Lowenna’s next feed - Carbpro, shot of fruit shoots and 300ml of warm water.
12:50 James has just given Lowenna 10-minute notification to next feed.
13:00 Feed no.5 has just been thrown to Lowenna, she has shouted that that she has been sick again, she doesn’t want anything to eat, she drinks most of her drink but not all of it!
13:03 Sea Temperature 17.2° Air Temperature 21.8° Wind speed 8.7 Knots - SE Direction
Ben spots a sunfish on the surface about 25 meters parallel to Lowenna.
13:04 We have a yacht about 5 meters off our port bow heading east.
13:30 Stroke Rate 54
13:40 Portuguese Naval F333 – Bartolomeu Dias of starboard side heading west
Photo 4 - Portuguese Naval F333 – Bartolomeu Dias in the background 13:43
13:44 Vicky is getting ready to go back out in the kayak, Ben readies the kayak and launches Vicky, she paddles over to Lowenna and paddles about 3 meters parallel to her.
13:45 James is making up Lowenna’s feed.
13:49 Stroke rate 56
13:50 Lowenna stops and asks for some peaches on her next feed, James tells her its 10 minuets to the next feed.
14:00 James throws Lowenna her 6th feed - Carbpro, shot of fruit shoots and 300ml of warm water and peaches. Either the line breaks of the feed bottle become detached from the line. Lowenna is told to take the feed and let it go of it as Vicky in the kayak can retrieve the container.
Lowenna also has some peaches also.
Photo 5 – Feed line detached from bottle 14:00
James asks Lowenna for a good solid hour of swimming to take advantage of the tides.
14:03 Sea Temperature 17.3° Air Temperature 22.1° Wind speed 6.1 Knots - SE Direction
14:30 Stroke Rate 55
14:46 James starts making up Lowenna’s feed
14:47 Ben says we have 2 more hours of flood tide into Plymouth and 5 hours of flood tide in the channel. Distance to Rame Head 1 mile, Penlee Point 2.2 miles and 4.3 miles to the eastern entrance of the breakwater / Plymouth Sound.
14:50 James gives Lowenna 10-minute warning for her next feed as a Dutch inshore hydro survey vessel passes heading out to sea.
15:03 Lowenna has had her 7th feed a drink and some peaches, she says she’s ok, but the drink was too hot for her.
15:05 Sea Temperature 17.2° Air Temperature 20.7° Wind speed 11.3 Knots - SE Direction
15:10 Stroke Rate 56
Billy is sat down untangling one of the feedlines, we all joke that he’s sat down doing his knitting!
Photo 6 – Billy Knitting – 15:10
15:13 – Just received a call from Sharon Miller (nee Price), who is the faster and 3rd person to swim from the Eddystone Lighthouse back to Plymouth Hoe Leander steps, she sends her best regards to Lowenna and wishes her all the best.
She has heard on social media that the intention is for Lowenna to finish on Mt Batten beach, she said that if Lowenna finishes there she will only be disappointed and would not have landed the swim in its traditional/original landing place. She asked me to relay the message to James her father that the swim should finish on the Hoe at the Leander Steps, the original landing spot where all previous swims have finished.
I spoke to James and relayed the message, James said that Lowenna wanted to finish at Mt Batten so as to make the swim ‘her’ own swim. I explained the history of the swim to him and where the original finish is. He said it was okay as long as Lowenna finished anywhere along the Hoe sea front. Ben explained that Mt Batten isn’t part of the Hoe seafront and that they should push on to finish at Leander Steps.
Ben and James discussed this some more regarding the finish, Ben was happy to take Lowenna across one of the shipping lanes and finish at the original/traditional finishing spot.
James decided that we should push on and bring the swim home on the Leader Steps at Plymouth Hoe.
15:29 The fishing trawler Alysee Rose passes on out port side, Stroke Rate 53, we are now parallel with Ramehead, first major piece of land fall on our way to Plymouth.
Photo 7 - Alysee Rose just off Rame Head – 15:29
15:39 Wind has started to pick up ever so slightly
15:47 James is making up Lowenna’s feed
15:50 James gives Lowenna 10 mins to feed hand signal.
15:55 James gives Lowenna 5 mins to feed hand signal.
16:00 Lowenna stops to feed, she says she not cold, but is aching, she asks for some more peaches.
16:02 Lowenna carries on swimming
16:03 Sea Temperature 17.1° Air Temperature 20.1° Wind speed 3.5 Knots - SE Direction
16:04 Just heard on the radio the next shipping movement is at 17:15, hopefully we can get across to the eastern side before of Plymouth Sound taking advantage of the tides still…it’s going to be close!
16:05 Plymouth is coming into full view now.
16:12 Just passing the Draystone Navigational marker buoy off Penlee Point, she should hopefully catch the tide and be pushed across the bay now. We have a yacht the other side of the navigation marker heading out to sea.
James has asked Lowenna push hard now for an hour.
Photo 8 - Draystone Navigational marker buoy off Penlee Point – 16:12
16:28 Stroke Rate 57
16:50 James gives Lowenna the 10-minute signal for her next feed
16:53 Ben has just said we have covered 1.2 nautical miles in 45 minuets owing to the tide and Lowenna digging deep.
16:55 James gives Lowenna the 5-minute signal for her next feed.
17:00 Lowenna has her feed and asks for some Jelly Babies, James commends Lowenna on a nice solid swim and says well done.
17:02 Lowenna swims starts swimming again.
17:03 Sea Temperature 17.3° Air Temperature 19.8° Wind speed 14.8 Knots - SE Direction
17:15 Stroke Rate 57, James says he wants to drop Lowenna’s feed to 45 mins
17:19 Vicky asks to get back onboard from spending time supporting Lowenna from the kayak, Ben assist Vicky getting out of the kayak and retrieves that kayak back on board the boat.
17:22 We have a yacht bearing down on us on the starboard side under sail. Stroke Rate 56
17:27 Yacht passes by, close but not close enough for concern
17:39 Lowenna swims into a large clump of seaweed, shrugs it off and carries on swimming.
17:40 Ben suggests that James gives Lowenna a feed now before we enter the eastern approaches / shipping lane of Plymouth Sound, once we round the eastern entrance to the breakwater the ebb tide will now be against her.
17:42 James give Lowenna her feed and some Jelly Babies, the crew shouts words of encouragement to her, Lowenna says she is cold! We’re just coming up opposite Bovisand Fort/beach.
17:45 Sea Temperature 16.9° Air Temperature 19.8° Wind speed 10.4 Knots - SE Direction
Photo 8a – Andrew cheering Lowenna just off Bovisand Bay – 17:45
17:55 Stroke Rate 58
18:17 James is preparing Lowenna’s feed, potentially this will be her last feed, the crew are giving Lowenna lots of encouragement, cheering and shouting, we can see Plymouth Hoe.
18:20 Stroke Rate 57, 10 minute signal to feed.
18:30 Last feed (fingers crossed) is thrown to Lowenna, she only drank about ¾ of her feed, the crew is shouting and cheering Lowenna, lots of encouragement.
Ben says its about 30/40 mins to the Mallard shoal set of marker and navigational buoys.
17:35 Sea Temperature 16.4° Air Temperature 19.8° Wind speed 3.5 Knots - SE Direction
Ben has just radioed QHM with his intentions regarding finishing at the Leander Steps on Plymouth Hoe, they call back a say that there is a dinghy race currently underway and one of their support boats is going to come along side and provide additional coverage as we pass through the fleet of dinghy’s.
Stroke Rate 60
18:41 The sailing club send one of their support boats over (a rib with two people on board) as we start to pass through the dinghy fleet. They are bearing down on our port side as they traverse the Sound going west to east, I think Lowenna is probably unaware of what’s going on and just keeps swimming.
Photo 9 – Dinghy Race in progress, support boat alongside – 18:43
Stroke Rate 60
18:47 Lowenna stops to swim around two huge patches of seaweed, the crew is shouting and cheering
Stroke Rate 56
19:16 Lots of positive words of encouragement, shouting and cheering from the crew
19:20 Lowenna’s support crew start getting themselves changed in readiness to swim/escort her into shore, Billy puts his wetsuit, whilst Vicky an Andrew decide to swim in skins.
19:22 Can see a big crowd above the Leander steps waiting to congratulate Lowenna
19:25 A drone is flown out from the shore to film Lowenna and is directly above us, we think it is from the local BBC news crew covering her landing. 19:31 Lowenna support crew is in the water, Andrew, Billy and Vicky swimming in behind her to the Leander steps.
Photo 10 – Support Crew swimming in with Lowenna - 19:32
19:33:05 Lowenna climbs out of the water, the steps look slippery as its now low water, she clears the water, pauses momentarily and turn’s and raises her hands in the air. Ben sounds the horns and the stop watch stops on 11hrs 31mins and 5 seconds.
Photo 11- Lowenna being greeted by her mum and brother
Photo 12 – Media interview
Photo 13 – Stop Watches
There’re big celebrations on the shore, lots of cheering and clapping.
Her mum, brother and nan are there to greet her, along with Sharon Miller, school friends, fellow swimmers and passers-by.
Lowenna is interviewed by the local TV crew BBC Spotlight.
19:35 We celebrate on the boat, Ben and I congratulate James, Lowenna’s dad who is by now very emotional.
A group of 5 SUP boarders paddle over and asks what’s going on, James tells them that his daughter has just swum from the Eddystone Lighthouse, they are taken back and amazed that she has just swum that far!
The swim has taken 11hrs 31mins 5seconds, Lowenna has swum strong and consistent all day. She wasn’t fazed during the earlier part of the swim when the winds and waves picked up, she just dug deep, got on with it and never complained. After her pervious swim in 2021 was blown out, Lowenna was even more determined to get this swim done this year.
Lowenna and her crew returned to the boat accompanied by her younger brother, who is really proud of his big sisters’ achievement today. We all joined in the celebrations congratulating Lowenna as we made our way back to Mount Batten marina.
Photo 14 – Lowenna back on board.
Photo 15 – Dad James, Lowenna and her brother
Big congratulations to Lowenna on her first big marathon swim, I’m pretty much sure there will be bigger swims to come!
Lowenna will now be focusing on her solo English Channel swim in 2024, this young lady has a fantastic swimming journey ahead of her and is definitely somebody to keep an eye on in the future…well done Lowenna.
by Lowenna North
My parents always wanted me and my brother to swim,that was the one thing we had to do. After swimming lessons I wanted to continue and joined my local swimming club (Launceston Swimming Club), I was never really good at anything in the pool, I am not a sprint swimmer nor am I very good at long distance, pool swimming wasn’t my thing at all. Around 3 years ago a few people from the swimming club said to my parents that I would be a good open water swimmer.
My parents found a coach (Jason Quiterio) and after my first session I fell in love with it! I soon heard about the english channel and knew that is what I wanted to do. Jason introduced us to Neil Brinkworth who is a member of plymouth open water swimmers and I was soon swimming with them. Neil completed the Eddystone swim in 2020 and after he completed the swim I knew that was what I wanted to do, my parents got in touch with the pilot that Neil used (Ben from In deep) and we booked a window in september 2021. I trained hard over the year completing a 6 hour and 10 hour swim however, unfortunately the weather just wasn’t right for me to complete the swim. After last year’s disappointment I was determined that I would do the swim this year. Training for the swim this year was a lot harder as it took a very long time for the water to warm up so I wasn’t able to do what I wanted to do. I had to work with the temperature a lot. We got back in touch with Ben and booked another window for this year, a month before I completed a six hour swim.
I chose my support crew (Neil Brinkworth, Andrew Butler, Billy O’Mahony, Vicky Harrison and Hannah Gardener) and I was ready to complete the swim. I was never nervous leading up to the swim,very excited and just wanted to do the swim and get it done. This has been nearly two years waiting so I was excited to finally complete the swim.The day we got the phone call to say the swim would be on the Monday was such an exciting day, we were one step closer! The day of the swim came and we were up at 4am, it didn’t really feel real. I don’t think it had fully sunk in what I was about to do. We arrived at Mount Batten Marina at 6am to meet the crew and see the boat, I found the few hours where we were getting stuff loaded onto the boat and going out to the lighthouse horrible because I had to sit there and wait, I was talking to the crew but I couldn’t do anything. I was on strict instructions to let everyone else do everything for me and it was horrible, I felt I needed to be doing something so the boat ride would go quicker! We arrived at Eddystone at 7:45 ish and it was an amazing moment to finally see the start line.
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