Extreme swimmer takes on water

2017-08-08 06:01

Ryan Stramrood, the extreme swimmer from Constantia, ended up in hospital when he made an attempt to swim solo from Ireland to Scotland across the notoriously difficult North Channel last Tuesday.

Around the halfway mark his official support crew noticed that his pace was slowing and they called medics to collect him in their boat.

They rushed him to a hospital emergency centre.

“It became a bit clearer that I was in trouble,” he says.

The hospital confirmed that he had water on the lungs.

“They explained why I was losing power in my arms – not enough oxygen to feed to muscles and it spirals quickly,” says ­Stramrood.

He was discharged after spending two days in hospital. He is still in Ireland.

Stramrood is no newcomer to the North Channel.

He was a member of the first relay team to succeed in a double crossing in 2015, and had returned to attempt his solo swim.

The North Channel swim is 35km, similar to the English Channel (which he completed in 2008) but with more severe weather, tides and significantly colder water.

“My decision to tackle the North Channel [in bad conditions on Tuesday] was based on two reasons: I had the best support team in the world in Infinity Channel Swimming and also because I’d rather try to push past what might seem to be impossible obstacles than concede to them,” he says.

The swim started well.

“When you expect chaos conditions, bad conditions seem okay. I started promptly at 04:55 in the pitch dark and the water was 12.8°C. The air temperature was very cold at 12°C with wind chill and drizzle. I felt really good with my head very much in the right place and my body strong,” he says.

Stramrood swam well for 16km.

“At five and a half hours in, I was cold but totally embracing it. But the water was getting rougher and was pushing me around a lot. I had also been drinking a ton of seawater,” he says.

He started battling to breathe.

“I simply could not get air into my lungs and couldn’t understand it. The next half hour I pushed with everything I had, hugely pleased to be reaching the halfway mark. But I knew something was wrong. I had no power in my arms and was gasping for air. The more I gasped the more seawater I drank. I was getting blurred vision and could not understand the crew’s instruction. I made the call to pull out,” he says.

Stramrood does not regret his decision to swim.

“It was totally possible. ’Cause I’m alive. If you don’t try, you don’t learn. If you don’t learn, you don’t grow,” he says.

Extreme swimmer, Ryan Stramrood, ended up in hospital when he made an attempt to swim solo from Ireland to Scotland across the notoriously difficult North Channel last Tuesday.

Around the halfway mark his official support crew noticed that his pace was slowing and they called medics to collect him in their boat.

They rushed him to a hospital emergency centre.

“It became a bit clearer that I was in trouble,” he says.

The hospital confirmed that the Constantia local had water on the lungs.

“They explained why I was losing power in my arms – not enough oxygen to feed to muscles and it spirals quickly,” says ­Stramrood.

He was discharged after spending two days in hospital. He is still in Ireland.

Stramrood is no newcomer to the North Channel.

He was a member of the first relay team to succeed in a double crossing in 2015, and had returned to attempt his solo swim.

The North Channel swim is 35km, similar to the English Channel (which he completed in 2008) but with more severe weather, tides and significantly colder water.

“My decision to tackle the North Channel [in bad conditions on Tuesday] was based on two reasons: I had the best support team in the world in Infinity Channel Swimming and also because I’d rather try to push past what might seem to be impossible obstacles than concede to them,” he says.

The swim started well.

“When you expect chaos conditions, bad conditions seem okay. I started promptly at 04:55 in the pitch dark and the water was 12.8°C.

“The air temperature was very cold at 12°C with wind chill and drizzle. I felt really good with my head very much in the right place and my body strong,” he says.

Stramrood swam well for 16km.

“At five and a half hours in, I was cold but totally embracing it. But the water was getting rougher and was pushing me around a lot.

“I had also been drinking a ton of seawater,” he says.

He started battling to breathe.

“I simply could not get air into my lungs and couldn’t understand it. The next half hour I pushed with everything I had, hugely pleased to be reaching the halfway mark. But I knew something was wrong.

“I had no power in my arms and was gasping for air. The more I gasped the more seawater I drank.

“I was getting blurred vision and could not understand the crew’s instruction. I made the call to pull out,” he says.

Stramrood does not regret his decision to swim.

“It was totally possible. ’Cause I’m alive. If you don’t try, you don’t learn.

“If you don’t learn, you don’t grow,” he says.

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