Member is first Brit to complete world’s toughest open water challenge

David Lloyd Leisure member Adam Walker has achieved his dream of becoming the first Brit ever to successfully complete, on the first attempt, the Ocean’s Seven – the world’s toughest open water challenge.

Adam, 36, who has been training at the group’s Lincoln club for the epic feat, swam across the Irish Channel yesterday (Wednesday, August 6), completing his seventh and final swim, and marking the end to a remarkable journey that has spanned six years.

Crossing the Irish Channel from Donaghadee, Northern Ireland, to north of Portpatrick in southwest Scotland - a distance of 21 miles (34 km) in 10 hours 45 mins - Adam said: “I just can’t believe that I’ve finally done it! I am ecstatic to finish seven out of seven swims on the first attempt. This swim was the last of the hardest seven ocean swims on the planet and to know that I am the first British person ever to succeed is a truly amazing feeling!”

Adam’s amazing conquest makes him only the second person in the world to complete all seven swims that make up the Ocean’s Seven challenge on the first attempt. Only four humans have ever completed the feat at all – the aquatic equivalent of the Seven Summits.

The Irish Channel is widely considered to be the most difficult channel swim in the world due to its heavy seas, hypothermia-inducing water temperature and strong currents. Adam also faced the threat of large pods of Lion’s Mane jellyfish, the largest known species of jellyfish that inhabits the waters and can reach a diameter of over 6ft 6ins (2 metres) with its tentacles topping 49 ft (15 metres).

"What I was not prepared for, was quite how big they can be. However, after a few stings, you realise their bark is worse than their bite," said Adam.

It was not the first time Adam has had to overcome nature’s hazards – previous Ocean’s Seven swims have seen him being stung by a Portuguese Man ‘O War and saved from a Great White shark by a protective pod of dolphins!

His Ocean’s Seven quest has also included:

  • English Channel, 21 miles (34km), July 2008 – completed in 11 hours 35 mins and sparking the ambition to swim the hardest seven oceans in the world
  • Strait of Gibraltar, 8 miles (13km), July 2010 – completed in 9 hours 39 mins (British record) and the first Brit to swim from Spain to Morocco and back again
  • Moloka’i Channel, Hawaii, 26 miles (42km), July 2012 – completed in 17 hours 2 mins after overcoming tiger sharks and first Brit to cross successfully
  • Catalina Channel, US, 21 miles (34km) October 2012 – completed in 12 hours 15 mins in darkness and fog
  • Tsugaru Strait, Japan, 12 miles (19km), August 2013 – completed in 15 hours 31 min, the first Brit to swim across the unpredictable channel through dangerous marine life
  • Cook Strait, New Zealand, 16 miles (26km), April 2014 – completed in 8 hours 36 mins after being rescued from a 6ft shark by dolphins

Adam, of Newark, Lincolnshire, who recently gave up his job as a travelling salesman to be a swimming coach, trained five days a week at David Lloyd Lincoln, Burton Waters, in preparation for his final mission.

Coupled with high intensity interval training (HIIT) and six-hour swims in Loch Lomond, Scotland, and Cork, Ireland, Adam was confident of defying the odds before setting off.

“The Irish Channel is the toughest on paper with Lion’s Mane jellyfish and hypothermia the two factors which stop most people from crossing. The temperature is only 12 degrees (54 ºF), too – when a swimming pool is 29 degrees (84 ºF), to put it into perspective.”

But Adam, whose swims have been raising money for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, is no stranger to danger. “I have been stung by a Portuguese Man ‘O War, which made me lose the feeling in my spine after more than thirteen hours of swimming, and I had to carry on for over three hours in agony and almost paralysed. I’ve also been chased by sharks. I’ve had everything thrown at me.

“These swims have given me so much; they have changed my life. Seven years ago, I hadn't had a swim for 10 years, I was overweight, I wasn’t doing much sport and I was a little depressed. Now I am classed as one of the best open water swimmers in the world and I feel I can conquer anything!

“I believe you can achieve anything in life if you want it bad enough. No matter what your dreams are, with hard work and determination you can achieve them.”

He added: "I would like to thank everyone for all the support I have had over the past seven years to make this dream a reality. Without this, completing the challenge would not have been possible".  

Note to editors: For further information about this press release, photos or interviews with Adam, contact the David Lloyd Leisure press office on 01707 289833/4 or email

About David Lloyd Leisure Group

The David Lloyd Leisure Group operates 81 clubs in the UK and a further 10 clubs across Europe, comprising David Lloyd Clubs , Harbour Clubs and Next Generation, plus the new high street concept, David Lloyd Studio, in Islington, Putney and Winchester. It has over 440,000 members and employs 6,000 people. This includes an expert health and fitness team of over 1,800, while it contracts the services of more than 400 tennis professionals. Across all clubs, David Lloyd Leisure has over 150 swimming pools (of which half are indoor) and offers over 10,000 exercise classes per week. Every week 20,000 children learn to swim at David Lloyd Leisure and 12,500 learn to play tennis. Its racquets facilities are unparalleled with 800 tennis courts as well as 180 badminton courts and 140 squash courts. Additional facilities include health and beauty spas, club lounges with free internet access, crèches, nurseries and specialist sports shops.