We’re gonna need a bigger kayak – swimmer surrounded by 50 sharks

Oly Rush who is to swim around the Isle of Wight to set a new world record

An environmental campaigner who aims to swim around the Isle of Wight and break the world record was surrounded by 50 sharks during a training swim.

Oly Rush, 36, was doing his first practise at night when he kept being buffeted and nibbled by mysterious creatures.

When his support kayaker Ashley McPherson shone his torch on the water they were amazed to see the eyes of about 50 sharks glaring back at them.

Oly quickly pulled out his phone and captured images of the smooth-hound sharks circling him.

He was swimming off Branksome beach in Poole, Dorset, about 75 yards from the shore when the incident occurred.

Oly, from Upton in Dorset, said: “I hadn’t done any night swimming before this challenge and this was my first practise in the dark.

“Before we set off I had joked about being attacked by sharks and we were laughing about it.

“Then during the swim I started getting bumped and things were nibbling my hands and feet – the parts which weren’t covered by my wetsuit.

“When Ashley shone his torch on the water we could see about 50 sharks – their eyes were staring at us.

“It was pretty unnerving at first but when I realised what it was I just enjoyed the experience which was amazing.

“It was fantastic to see so many sharks in the wild just behaving naturally.

“I got my phone which was in a waterproof cover and managed to film some of them.

“After about 15 minutes I swam on and left them to it. I think they might have been attracted to a flashing light in my tow float that I swim with.

“It’s a small bag attached to me in which you can keep valuables and I had put a flashing bicycle light inside it.

“The sharks’ nibbles didn’t hurt because they don’t have teeth; they tend to crush shellfish and things for food so I wasn’t in any danger.

“Most of them were about four feet long and I feel very privileged to have seen them.

“The experience also means I won’t worry if they approach me when I’m doing my swim around the Isle of Wight at the end of the month.

“Last year I swam the length of the Jurassic Coast to raise money for anti-pollution charities and this year I’m planning to swim around the island and hopefully break the world record.

“I aim to complete it in sub-26 hours but mainly I want to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the oceans and raise money for anti-pollution charities.”

Plasterer Oly will set off at Seaview, near Ryde on the island, and spend the next day and night in the water.

It is equivalent to crossing the English Channel three times.

The attempt will take place at the end of the month when conditions are right.

To support Oly on his adventure, visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/plasticfight?utm_term=pVa2QggAp