A Grantham man has become the first person to swim around Great Britain’s entire 1,780-mile coastline.
Ross Edgley finished the epic journey in Margate at around 9am, having been joined by 300 swimmers for his last mile.
The adventurer, who has previously rope-climbed the height of Everest and swum 100km through the Caribbean Sea while tied to a log, swum for up to 12 hours each day.
Mr Edgley had not set foot on dry land since he left Margate in June, only stopping to sleep on board his support catamaran.
The strongman had hoped to complete his world-first in under 100 days but in the end the herculean task took him 157 days to finish.
As well as battling strong currents and tides, the 33-year-old Lincolnshire swimmer also had to dodge jellyfish and storms as he slowly made his way around the coast.
He estimated that he had eaten about 500 bananas and consumed at least half a million calories to fuel his exertions. Each day he planned to eat the same number of calories found in five Christmas dinners.
Mr Edgley made 11 miles of progress each day on average and the overall effort was the equivalent of completing 85 cross-Channel swims consecutively.
In August, 74 days into his challenge, he broke the world record for the longest staged sea swim. Now, he has extended that by a further 82 days.
As cheering crowds greeted his return to Margate on Sunday morning, he said he was delighted with the support he had received.
“This is amazing. There’s not many places you come in and people are asking you to sign bananas,” he told the BBC.
“The community around the whole swim has been amazing. People really got behind it. It felt like such a team sport – in no way was it a solo endeavour.”
At one stage Mr Edgley’s tongue began to disintegrate because of the prolonged exposure to seawater. He also had to deal with extreme chafing from his wetsuit.
At his fastest, when he was practically surfing along with the tide, Mr Edgley said that he had reached eight knots, which amounts to ”the cruising speed of a dolphin”.
But on the most gruelling portions he occasionally made negative progress and ended some days behind where had started because the currents, wind and tides were against him.
Throughout his epic challenge, Mr Edgley updated his growing army of fans through social media and regularly recorded video blogs charting his progress.
He said that he was thrilled to have inspired many of those tracking him online to commit to their own challenges; some have signed up for their first-ever triathlons.
The next challenge for Mr Edgley, he joked, was to “learn to walk again”. “This sounds so weird, but I’m still not bored of swimming. If you’re able to swim around Great Britain, what else could you potentially do? I’m open to suggestions…”