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The Pacific Ocean - largest ocean on our planet. One of the most
dramatic environments on earth. And home to some of the most unusual
creatures known to man. And it is here I am taking on the
biggest challenge of my life and facing my fear of deep, open water
by swimming across one of the deepest stretches of ocean on earth.
But getting here has not been easy. Three months ago I could barely
swim a few months in the safety of a pool, so this challenge seems
insane -- barely swim a few lengths. In fact, it could even cost me my
Just under three months ago when we first started this, I never thought
this challenge was actually going to happen, and now I find myself on
a boat, and in an hour's time I'm going to be swimming the furthest I
have ever swum in one of the deepest parts of the ocean on this
earth. I still can't believe I'm doing this.
For three-quarters of the Earth is covered with water. It might look
flat on the surface, but take all the water away and beneath the seas
you will find mountain ranges that rival even the tallest peaks on
land. There are also massive valleys, the deepest of which are
in the Pacific Ocean. I will swim five miles across one called the
Palau Trench, which has hundreds of miles long. At its lowest point it
is over 8000 metres deep, over 10 times the height of the tallest
building on earth and more than 80 times the height of Big Ben. I am
hoping to be the first person ever to swim across the deepest point.
But I'm not just doing this for myself, I want to help inspire
other non- swimmers as well. It is all part of the Big Splash, a BBC
campaign to help people like me get into swimming.
Since I have been on Blue Peter I have taken on all kinds of
challenges and faced a lot of my fears, like hides. -- high 80 s.
But my fear of deep, open water has always remained and it petrified me.
It has stopped me from doing things like the swim on our summer trip to
Turkey, my fear held me back. Then I met my trainer Dave, who made me
realise I had to face up to my fear. realise I had to face up to my fear.
Three months ago I could barely swim. It was frustrating and it
showed. Come on, let's carry on. With help from Dave and lots of
training in my own time, things started to improve. But no matter
how good my technique was, one thing kept holding me back.
I just hate deep water, I really, really do. I've also exposed, there
is nothing to hold on to. -- I feel so exposed. I see myself from a
point of view of a shark or something, just looking up Abbey is
dangling feet. When Dave made me swim in a lake, I was almost ready
to throw in the towel. I really don't know if I want to do
it, if I'm honest. Because this is possibly my deepest fear ever. But
with the help of a psychologist, I was getting to grips with my fear.
A open-water, deep water... And with Dave's help, my swimming
was improving. 29 seconds, excellent! 29, well done.
By May, I was ready for my toughest challenge yet, the Great Salford
Swim, a mile long competitive event in a former Ship Canal.
When you think only a few weeks ago he could barely swim, it is
terrific. With 100 metres left to go, all the pain I have experienced
over the past three months is suddenly worth it.
Yeah, boy! You feel that?! Mate! That was so good! I never would
have thought I would do that! Come But my journey is far from over.
All this whims I have done so far have been in fresh water. -- all
the swims I have done so far. This will be in the sea, meaning waves,
currents and salt. This is open water, you have the sea swirling,
the currents. These are my fears being realised in front of me right
now. You are out of your comfort zone. You can do this, you can do
this, you can do this, you can do this.
I can't do it, I can't do it! AU, it is cold!
As I swim away from the boat, my fear starts to return. Moments
later, things take a turn for the worse.
I don't like this at all! Even Dave is concerned. Just think
about your stroke. I want to come back on the boat. I really don't
like it. Do you want somebody to swim with you? Can I come out,
please?! He has lost a bit of confidence, I think, panicked a bit.
It has got to him a bit. I was just like... I was just swishing around
and I just felt I was not going anywhere. You have to get control
of your mind, your mind is playing tricks with you. It is no different
from in the lake. I have every confidence you can do it. Let's do
I decide to give it one more try, but this time with a swimming
companion, a local lifeguard. think he is putting on a brave face,
if I'm honest, and he is really nervous. He has to think a bit more
about what he needs to do, rather than just thrashing up and down.
There is more to my challenge than just getting the swimming right. I
could be in the water for up to six hours, so eating, drinking and
going to the toilets have to be done while treading water.
Having someone in the water is really helping, but I mean to prove
I can do this on my own. Alice, we're going to bring you back in,
please! Andy, you are all on your I get down to the task in hand and,
thankfully, the time just flies by. Andy, well done. Swim back towards
the boat. I can't believe I have just done that. Over two hours, it
shows what you can do. The second half of this is about insurance,
believing in yourself and focusing on what you can do. Grab me some
fish, I fancy some chips as well! was worried when he started but he
did brilliant, he got his head around it and conquered his fear,
he proved he can do it, amazing, he swam over three miles. I have
earned a fish dinner but I want to know more about the fish I will
swim with on my challenge. My final swim takes place in one of
the deepest parts of the Pacific Ocean, so to find out more, I have
come to the ocean lab at the University of Aberdeen. They are
world leaders in deep-sea exploration. Dr Alan Jamieson is
one of the few people who have been there to explore the Pacific
trenches. What kind of stuff is down there? This really concerns me,
anybody who goes into deep water want to know what is at their feet.
There are probably more things than you would think. We have found
fiche -- fish living as deep as a thousand metres, beyond that we
tend to find a small type of shrimp, they are called scavengers. If you
present there with any food they will turn up in huge numbers under
bow it very quickly. Like human beings, for instance? Yes. You are
not just saying that? They will pretty much eat anything you
present a with, like you, for example. Do you want to see some of
this footage that we have obtained? This was a couple of years ago, a
smell fish, nearly 8000 metres. -- a snail fish. That is disgusting! I
will regret asking this, but I hear you guys have some actual creatures
here from the depth of the sea? Would you like to see one? Yes...
Maybe... This is a fish from the deep-sea
called a lizard fish. Look at the jaws on that thing! It looks
prehistoric. This is quite common in the deep-sea. Imagine one of
them coming at you! Are you sure it is dead? Absolutely. They tend to
eat small shrimp and other fish, they live on the bottom. More than
likely below my feet? Cheers. No time to dwell on sea creatures,
it is time to leave for the Pacific Ocean.
Because of the risk involved in what I'm doing, Dave and I will be
joined by Amy, a skilled expedition doctor. Lots could go wrong so I am
glad she is here just in case. There is a whisker of sun exposure,
heat related illness, dehydration, we have been informed about the
various sharks and deadly jellyfish that might accompany him on his
swim, there is a huge amount that could go wrong. Our destination is
the tiny island of Po Lyle, population just 20,000. It is one
of a string of islands which make up a region called Micronesia. The
islands are effectively the top of a huge underwater mountain range
and it is so far away it takes well over a day to get there.
We have finally arrived, let's just say it is not so bad on the eyes!
That is my view. Andy Akinwolere is feeling good. For now, anyway.
The waters are about 26 Celsius, so what is the temperature -- twice
the temperature of the sea back home. See that arch? That is 1000
metres. Let's do this. It is so warm, it is lovely! I tell you what,
it beats the English Channel, put it that way!
This is only my second swim in the ocean, but it could not be more
different to the sea back home. It is a real confidence booster.
Andy. I'd say about halfway, Andy. You are about half way. You are
looking really good. This practice is only about a quarter of what
I'll be doing in my final swim. It feels easy but I know when I am out
at sea, things could be very different. For a start, the water
beneath me will be five miles deep. I want you to head to the tip of
this island on the left-hand side. Andy, just head for the arch,
straight through the middle. that is where my troubles begin.
I have caught my feet on the coral and the rocks just below the
surface, and it hurts. This ain't good. I didn't estimates
just how shallow that was, because I was so used to swimming in the
deep water, and before I knew it, I was on the coral and the rocks. I
didn't even feel like I cut anything, it has shredded my skin.
Back on the boat and a meat checks the cuts on my feet. Shall we give
that to rinse and spray it? About a mile-and-a-half, use one today.
That feels good. -- about a mile and a half, you swam today. It is
more than just choral I have to contend with. In the open ocean I
might come across all kinds of animals, Dave wants me to get used
to swimming with some. I told you this lake was famous for jellyfish.
What would you save for swimming in them? You are crazy, I am not
getting stung. What have I said they do not sting? I will have to
trust you, but if I get stung you owe me. I promise you.
Jellyfish Lake is one of the -- a saltwater lake which has come out -
- has become cut off from the sea and is home to 20 million jellyfish.
Most jellyfish have stinging tentacles, but these feed on small
plants called algae, and because they are cut off from the sea they
have no predators, so over time they have evolved to become totally
Despite the reassurances I am still scared. This feels just a little
I am starting to panic. Quickly I find the whole thing too much and I
have to get out. Today we went out into jelly fish lake. I completely
freaked out. I think it was just a step too far. I now enjoy swimming
and being in the water but I've realised than when something comes
close to me like a jelly fish I completely freak out. That is
something that I need to work on because in the ocean there is a
high chance that there could be jellyfish or some other creature.
And that really on nerves me. one thing and he needs to improve
on his he has to control his mind. That really shook him up and that
is something that we could encounter on the great swim. This
is only a small place and word has got out about my challenge. I am
joined by a very special guest. Even the local television station
is interested. And our journey is given a traditional blessing to
wish as good luck. With the islanders blessing I feel
ready to set sail. The best time for my swim his early morning, so
we need to leave at night. It is now dark and we are on the boat out
to Palau Trench. It is the first time I have been on a boat like
this and it is pitch black. We are miles and miles away from any kind
of civilisation or bland. I am really scared. But I want to take
this on because I know when I finish it I am going to feel so
good. This is different. This is really
different. I have never woken up to just their ocean. It puts what
we're doing in perspective. That is the massive. I will beat this tiny
person trying to swim across. It is a bit daunting. I had better get
some breakfast. My swim across the Palau Trench, one of the deepest
stretches of ocean on earth, it is five miles long. David thinks it
could take up to six hours but I'm hoping it will be less. First, some
rules. You are not allowed to touch the boat at all. Even when drinking
or eating, you have to stay away. What will happen if there are
sharks, can I get on the boat then? We will let him on the boat.
there anything else I might encounter? There are tiny creatures
and if you got stung by a group of them that is potentially lethal.
This is not what I need first thing in the morning! My biggest worry is
not about fatigued but about what happens if he sees actually fish or
any other creature. Get yourself ready. This is it. This is it. As I
went to enter at the water, day reminds me of what I have achieved
in the last few months. Then I started I could barely swim a
couple of lengths in a pool. But then before I knew what I swam a
mile in Salford. Now I have facing my final and most terrifying swim
yet. A five-mile stretch in some of the deepest ocean on earth. I
cannot delay it any further. With Dave waiting in the safety boat it
is now or never. A dodgy the Lyric! He got in the
water really confident. That is a good sign. There's just one thing
on my mind - keeping my Fiat under control. He has been swimming about
25 minutes. In five minutes and will stop him and give him some
drink and food. We are just going to have a tea
break. This is my first rest break. I must tread water and not touch
the boat. I'm just 30 minutes in and have only Tom three-quarters of
So far I have not met any jelly fish. The Sharks are staying away
and I'm not thinking about just how deep it is. The idea is to have
short breaks for food and drink throughout the serene. Time for
another. We are going to have a break. Well done. How does it feel
to have five miles of water underneath you? I don't want to
think about it. I have been in the water just fair an hour. I still
have over three miles to go. I'm not even halfway yet.
It is starting to rain. It will not make any difference to him.
Suddenly it feels as if I'm making no progress at all. We have just
heard that the current has changed direction which would explain why
he is not making much progress at the moment. That is a bit worrying
if I am honest. I am not going to relay it to him at the moment
because it could demoralise him. keep going until my break. Feeling
all right? A bit tired. I have swum a long way, I'm three miles into my
big challenge. With two miles still to go and my body aching, Dave has
something he thinks could spurred me on. He have got some good luck
messages from your fans. You can do it, we love you. Blue Peter's
number one fan - you can do it. Belief in yourself. During your
messages of support is an nice reminder that as well as my coach,
you guys at home are right behind me. Time is flying by and luckily
the current is back in my favour. I have got a rhythm going and it is
not long before I have some good news. One mile to go, you are doing
fabulous. Just finish this. Just one mile until the finish. On its
own it is a distance I know I can finish but it comes after having
already swamped for four miles. This will take every bit of energy
that I have left. I am retired and the cramped is
setting in but I know that completing this swim is all about
mind over matter. With 500 metres to go, I see the
finish line and I really go for it. I am feeling quite emotional. So
many people doubted that he could do it. They said, he will never do
Yes! Get me on the boat, now! done. After all that swimming my
legs are a bit wobbly. Fantastic. That was immense. There were
moments when my mind started to play tricks on me. You did a
brilliant job. This is the World Open Water Swimming Association.
Beware the first person ever to swim across the deepest stretch of
the Palau Trench. You have to world records for stub that is amazing.
Absolutely amazing. You guys at home, get out there, go for and