5am in the morning. “Caitriona I’m going have to get rid of this air mattress”. “Please do” she replied. We slept on an air mattress that was slowly deflating for the first five hours of the night. I can honestly say that this was up there for one of my worst sleeps ever. We planned on getting up early this morning, but I had to change the alarm clock time to suit my crying out body for quality sleep.

Once I got out of the tent at about 8am, the sun just beamed right through. I was getting quite frustrated with this weather, as it meant that there is very little flow in the river. I really wanted a few heavy downpours of rain, just to make swimming down the river easier and more enjoyable.

At around lunchtime we started to pull out the gate, and Malcolm kindly dropped us to where we finished yesterday evening. He was such as nice person and even helped up lifting all the gear to the riverbank where we would be starting.

We started in an area of nice deep, slow moving water, which was full of small fish. Charlie wanted to see if she could stand-up on one of the SUP’s straight away, and she did. Fair play to her, she was never on one before, and she was already standing and looking very comfortable.

We were moving along, and then hit shallow water. Annette and Malcolm told us that we would have shallow water until we got to Melverly Bridge, after which the River Severn got deep. Melverly Bridge was about 8km from where we started, so we had a lot of stop starting activity to overcome. I was constantly on the look out for shallow areas under me, as Patch and Charlie can’t see too far into the murky water.

Ross O Sullivan River Severn

After about two hours of going down the river, we reached Melverly Bridge. We were all quite excited about this, as we knew that it was going to get less stressful from here on in. I have to give so much credit to Patch and Charlie for looking out for the teams safety at all times. I can only imagine how tiring that would be, constantly looking out for shallow areas, floating or submerged trees etc. They were also getting baked in the sun all the day, and I’m convinced that Patch was drinking more water than myself.

We were 7km into the swim and my head was pounding. I had been drinking buckets of water, so was getting a bit worried about my headache. I stopped after about 10 minutes later and had to tell the guys that I had a pounding headache. They both told me that I was probably dehydrated, so I drank about one litre of water. I went back swimming and felt the pounding headache dissipate slowly. I was dehydrated, and this came at such a surprise to me. In training, I had the nutrition down to a tee, and was executing this plan today, but it didn’t work obviously. The temperature was about 25 degrees. This is becoming one of the biggest problems on this trip. The weather for next few days is apparently even hotter!

We reached the 10km mark, and I got a great sense of satisfaction. There is something very monumental about reaching the 10km mark when swimming. 10km in swimming is called a ‘marathon swim’. It wasn’t a good time to get all too happy, as we knew I had another 7km to swim.

The best way to explain how I’m swimming is “imagine you are going for a run. You typically go at a ‘jogging’ pace”. This is how I train in the pool during the winter. I spend most of time in this zone of training. However, when I’m swimming down the River Severn I have to imagine like I’m doing it at walking pace. I have to constantly think about the following days to come.

We reached the 14km mark, and I knew that this was the 100km mark for the trip. Charlie, Patch and I, were having great fun along the way. We would stop every now and again to take some great pictures and videos. It was fantastic, just to take an opportunity to capture the magnificent scenes around us. I felt very envious of Charlie and Patch and those SUP’s.

I asked Patch to check his phone to see how much further it was to our rest point for the evening. He said it was two more bends. When he said this, I got a second wind of energy. That feeling of coming up to the finishing point for the evening is unexplainable. We saw Caitirona standing up on the riverbank in the distance ahead, with her distinct blue Motor Neurone Disease t-shirt on. Every evening we have finished, Caitirona is standing on the riverbank waiting for us. It’s a great sight.

We scrambled out of the water, and everyone was relieved. We had been on the river for seven hours today and it had been a long tiring day for everyone. The heat of the day, took its toll on us early on.


Caitirona organised showers for us at a stranger’s house, and also got us a free campsite to stay at. Caitriona deserves so much credit. She has been doing such a great job as land support. She is well out of her comfort zone and as a result has really helped the team day after day.

We all went back to the campsite, where we had dinner in the dark. We bedded down for the night straight after dinner. We were all truly wrecked.

Today was the day where we crossed over from Wales to England, reached the 100km, and travelled down the River Severn as a full team.

What a great day!

If people would like to donate, you can do so by visiting my Just Giving page, it’s really simple to do. All monies will go directly to Motor Neurone Disease Association.


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Start Location: Llandrinio
End Location: Shrawardine
Distance travelled: 17.40km
Exercise Duration: 7hr:02mins
GPS Track: //connect.garmin.com/modern/profile/RossSwims

Day 5 – River Severn Adventure