DORSET’S very own ‘human fish’ is preparing for his next challenge – swimming around the Greek island of Ithaca to raise awareness and funds to fight plastic pollution.
Oly Rush, from Upton, has been training for the swim, which is expected to take around 24 hours, with sponsorship funds being donated to Project Planet Earth and Healthy Seas – groups dedicated to cleaning up the world’s oceans.
He has been supported by recruitment company Green Folk Ltd, based in Hook, Hampshire, which has funded Oly during his training and is covering his costs.
During the 60km – almost 40-mile – swim, Oly will have to battle fatigue and another potential danger – jellyfish – with spotters employed on his support boat to keep an eye out.
He is set to take to the water on September 4, weather permitting.
Intrepid Oly has previously swum the length of the Jurassic Coast, as well as becoming the fastest person to swim around the Isle of Wight, and the first person ever to swim around Grand Cayman.
The vegan swimmer has put on eight kilograms during training because of the relative coldness of the water where he trains off the Dorset coast.
“I am so grateful to Chris Payne of Green Folk Ltd for making this possible. And there are lots of other people giving their time for nothing,” he said.
“I’ve had great support from Adriana Eyzaguirre who has helped with the planning and runs a kayak tour company on the island.
“And I’ve also had help from Kerry Jamieson of Argos Animal Welfare out there. She will be helping to observe the swim and ensuring the rules are followed.
“Also, when the mayor of Icatha heard about the swim he offered me accommodation.
“The sea there around the island is about 28 degrees, which compares with 17 degrees in the water where I’ve been training.
“The main dangers are sunburn, exhaustion and jellyfish, which at certain times of the year are found in large numbers.
“But I have a really professional team and hopefully we can raise plenty of money for the two good causes.
“I am lucky in that I can combine my hobby, which is swimming, with my passion, which is helping better protect the oceans.”
When not swimming, Oly spends his time clearing plastic from Dorset’s beaches, as well as giving talks to schoolchildren about plastic pollution.
Ithaca was the homeland of Odysseus, the hero of the Homeric poem Odyssey. It is where the faithful Penelope waited patiently for 20 years for her husband to return.
There will be a tracker on the www.projectplanet.earth website where people can follow his progress, and to make donations, log on to https://gofund.me/a2c63c3d.