Explorer to swim world’s seven seas to honour grandfather who died with dementia

The challenge begins on June 3, with Louis Alexander’s first swimming marathon in the Red Sea in Egypt.

Danielle Desouza
Tuesday 26 March 2024 08:00 GMT
Mr Alexander will be visiting locations which have a sentimental connection with his grandfather (Louis Alexander/PA)
Mr Alexander will be visiting locations which have a sentimental connection with his grandfather (Louis Alexander/PA)

An explorer is hoping to achieve two world records by swimming 10 kilometre marathons in the world’s Seven Seas to visit locations his grandfather who died with dementia either visited or was fascinated by.

Louis Alexander is no stranger to taking on mammoth adventures, having rowed the English Channel in May 2022, finished a swim from Europe to Asia in August 2022, and completed seven marathons in the most remote corners of all seven continents in December.

For his latest challenge, he is to swim 10 kilometre marathons in each of the “classical Seven Seas”, starting with the Red Sea in Egypt on June 3.

He will then make his way through the Arabian Sea in Oman, the Aegean Sea in Greece, the Adriatic Sea in Italy, the Black Sea in Turkey and the Mediterranean Sea in Spain, before taking on the final swim in the North Sea in Dover, in mid-July.

Mr Alexander’s grandfather – Captain Rick Taylor, who served in the British Army for 38 years and died in 2019 with dementia – has always been at the heart of his adventures, with this one being no exception.

“The reason I’ve chosen many of the locations for this challenge is because I’m trying to almost retrace his steps a little bit,” the 24-year-old who is based in London told the PA news agency.

“I’ve picked all the locations very specifically on places where he either served in the military, he spent time when he was serving with the United Nations or places he used to talk about and was fascinated by.

“One of the places he was truly fascinated by but never got the opportunity to go to because of his early diagnosis was Egypt, so that’s where I’m going to be starting out.”

Other locations with sentimental connections include Oman, where Captain Taylor spent time when he was in the military.

Mr Alexander made a promise to his grandfather when he was 19 that he would find a cure for dementia and that goal has remained a key component of his feats.

During his running challenge, he carried a letter calling for the Government to invest £16 million in improving dementia diagnostics, to which the Prime Minister replied last week.

“It was amazing for me and my team to be acknowledged for our efforts with the running project,” he said.

“It was really wonderful to see the Prime Minister’s care and commitment to dementia – not just with research – but also with diagnostics.

“In the letter, he said the Government is going to try and get the current number of people diagnosed from one in three to two in three.

“Getting that number to three in three is the ultimate dream, and I’m sure we can get there.”

He said many people have sent him “incredibly heartwarming” messages off the back of the letter, sharing their stories about how dementia has affected them or loved ones.

Mr Alexander also hopes to break two records – to become the youngest person to ever swim the classical Seven Seas, as well as to become the first person in history to run the seven continents and swim the seven seas.

He has been collecting evidence to verify these feats, including data from his runs, which he will send to Guinness World Records.

He will be joined by a support team and said some of the obstacles he is set to face include potentially swimming alongside sharks in the Red Sea and combating temperatures of up to 40C and beyond in Egypt and Oman.

“It’s tough for anyone to swim for up to five hours non-stop potentially, let alone in the heat, let alone as a red head,” he joked.

He has been preparing for “every eventuality” by carrying out practice swims a few times a week, shoulder mobility work and focusing on being as injury resistant as possible.

“I’m not going out there to try and swim the fastest marathon,” he said.

“It’s about survival in these different seas and weather, and getting the marathons done and continuing to spread awareness for dementia and the fight for a cure, to honour my grandfather.”

Money raised from the challenge is to go to Alzheimer’s Research UK, and more information can be found here: https://www.justgiving.com/page/thesevenseas

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