'Chunks of my tongue came off – you could see the tastebuds': Ross Edgley on swimming around Great Britain

The Guardian - Nov 05, 13:39 GMT

The fitness expert survived raw wounds and jellyfish stings, braved storms and emptied a 5kg bucket of petroleum jelly to complete the record-breaking feat of mental and physical endurance

The fitness expert survived raw wounds and jellyfish stings, braved storms and emptied a 5kg bucket of petroleum jelly to complete the record-breaking feat of mental and physical endurance. So, is he a masochist?

Ross Edgley, who has just become the first man to swim around Great Britain, is trying to describe what it feels like to have your tongue disintegrate. “I realised something was bad when I woke up with chunks of it on my pillow,” he recalls. The flesh was translucent, but otherwise a lot like beef stroganoff or slow-cooked pork. “It’s that tender, you’re just pulling strips off,” says Edgley energetically. “You could see the tastebuds on it, it was that thick.”

Endurance swimmers call it salt mouth – the effect of seawater buildup in your mouth and throat. Edgley’s was at its worst as he passed Dungeness in early June, about 85 hours of swimming after setting out from Margate harbour. “Even a week in, it went from being a swim as most people consider it, as a sport, to being a survival exercise,” he says.

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