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From Sealand to Felixstowe: Updates as the swimmer sets off on his daring trip today

PUBLISHED: 10:45 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 08:48 21 August 2018

The view from Richard's boat tells us that he is nearing the shore Picture: FACEBOOK RICHARD ROYAL

The view from Richard's boat tells us that he is nearing the shore Picture: FACEBOOK RICHARD ROYAL

Archant

The man attempting to become the first person to swim from the obscure micro-nation of Sealand to the coast has passed the half-way point and finally spotted land on his trip to Felixstowe.

Richard atop the micronation of Sealand Picture: RICHARD ROYALRichard atop the micronation of Sealand Picture: RICHARD ROYAL

Richard Royal started the 7.5 mile swim to the mainland for charity earlier today after taking a boat to the micro-nation located just off the Suffolk coast.

After getting his passport stamped, he was lowered from the platform into the sea on a special crane and began his swim at 11.06am this morning. He has since completed over 3.5 miles.

Richard will take small snack breaks (known as a ‘feeding’) every 45 minutes during his marathon swim today. Sources tell us that he has so far eaten a banana, biscuits and some juice.

Despite strong tides pushing him offshore the boat captain following Richard is confident they will still arrive near Felixstowe gold club.

Richard is lowered into the sea to begin his marathon swim to the east coast Picture: RICHARD ROYALRichard is lowered into the sea to begin his marathon swim to the east coast Picture: RICHARD ROYAL

Richard, who lives in Hull, hopes to make the swim across the North Sea in under six hours, travelling through water which averages temperatures of just 18C.

No stranger to marathon swimming challenges, Richard has previously swum from Alcatraz; taken part in an English Channel Relay and is due to compete at the European Masters Swimming Championships in Slovenia later this year.

He said: “It’s going to be a really challenging swim, with currents and tides it’s bound to be longer than 12km and that kind of distance non-stop in the North Sea is tough. I’ve been training to increase my endurance over longer distances in open water, but honestly the organisational side of this challenge has taken as much time than the actual swimming element so far.

The Principality of Sealand is famously know as a ‘micro-nation’, it was originally built as a gun-tower fortress to defend shipping lanes during the Second World War, during which time it was home to up to 300 Royal Navy personnel.

Richard taking a break during his swim, he has completed roughly 1.7 miles so far Picture: FACEBOOK RICHARD ROYALRichard taking a break during his swim, he has completed roughly 1.7 miles so far Picture: FACEBOOK RICHARD ROYAL

It was decommissioned in 1965 and subsequently occupied by a pirate radio station. As it lays outside of the UK’s 6km borders and therefore fell within international waters, its occupants declared it an independent country, a claim furthered by a 1968 legal case which ruled that it was not subject to UK jurisdiction.

Sealand has since introduced its own flag, currency, stamps and national anthem.

Richard first became aware of Sealand and other micro-nations when he was a politics student. He has since harboured a great interest in them.

It has taken around two years to organise and gain the necessary permissions for the swim and to arrange for a pilot from East Anglia Sea School, based in Levington. to skipper an accompanying safety boat. The swim is expected to be accredited by the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) and British Long Distance Swimming Association (BLDSA).

Richard Royal set off to Sealand yesterday Picture: RICHARD ROYALRichard Royal set off to Sealand yesterday Picture: RICHARD ROYAL

Although Richard is taking the swim on as a personal challenge, supporters are welcome to donate to spinal injury charity Aspire, which is helping to provide support crew free of charge.

All expenses for the swim are paid for by Richard himself, so all donations go directly to the charity. Those interested in following Richard’s progress can do so on his Facebook page.

This story will be updated throughout today.

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