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Wormegay women the first to swim world’s strongest whirlpool




A mother and daughter from Wormegay are the first women to swim across one of the strongest tidal currents in the world.

Ellen and Sarah Taylor, aged 23 and 54 respectively, managed to get across the Saltstraumen maelstrom in a time of eight minutes and 46 seconds without wearing wetsuits.

The distance of the Norwegian strait in Bodø is only 250m, but the 20-knot currents make it extremely difficult to swim.

Ellen and Sarah Taylor completed the swim without wetsuits
Ellen and Sarah Taylor completed the swim without wetsuits

Ellen said: “The current did slow us down, but we were expecting to be dragged quite a way out to sea, and fortunately this did not happen. We swam in almost a straight line!

“There were lots of jellyfish in the water, including lion manes which can give a nasty sting. We managed to avoid being stung-despite nearly running into lots of them.

“Another problem was boats-the Saltstraumen is a very small straight with both cargo ships and tourist boats passing through.

Sarah, 54, and Ellen Taylor, 23, before their swimming challenge in the Saltstraumen maelstrom
Sarah, 54, and Ellen Taylor, 23, before their swimming challenge in the Saltstraumen maelstrom

“Our pilot Knut was amazing for communicating with these boats to make sure our crossing was safe.”

Knut Westvig works for a local tourism company and ensured that the Taylors were able to swim at a time when there was the least amount of swell.

Ellen said Mr Westvig “knows the water better than anyone and did a brilliant job” when assisting them.

The pair had previously been on a swimming holiday in the Lofoten Islands, not far from the maelstrom, where they were adjusting to water temperatures and practising their strokes.

The Saltstraumen maelstrom in Bodø, Norway
The Saltstraumen maelstrom in Bodø, Norway

“We feel so happy to have completed this swim. The water was incredibly clear and beautiful with dramatic mountains surrounding the strait,” Ellen continued.

“All our friends are amazing and have been massively supportive. We feel so lucky to have had this opportunity.”

The pair are already looking ahead to their next challenges with Ellen set to swim the length of Lake Windermere, the longest lake in the country, this weekend.

“We’re also hunting out some more adventurous swims to do together,” Ellen said.

The swim took less than 9 minutes to complete, battling strong currents in the process
The swim took less than 9 minutes to complete, battling strong currents in the process

The idea came to Ellen-who is studying psychology for a PhD at Oxford University-after swimming Corryreckan off the west coast of mainland Scotland last year.

The Corryvreckan whirlpool is the third largest in the world.



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