Scilly Swim Challenge Updates

Travel and accommodation

30/09/2019 10:11
How to get to Scilly and where to stay
Responsive image

How do I get here and where do I stay?

Getting to Scilly

It has to be said the rest of the world is a bit far from the Isles of Scilly….. but we’re confident it will be worth the trek getting here.

When to come

You need to be on Scilly on Friday afternoon for the registration and briefing. You will also need to stay Saturday night as we anticipate finishing the event after the last flight has left. There is a ferry back to the mainland on the Sunday but if the weather means we swap days for the event then you’ll be scuppered. Plus you’d miss the awesome party on the Sunday evening.

So three nights it is…… or longer….. why not add a few days and make a whole week of it?

How to get here

Three options:

  1. The Scillonian III ferry. The cheapest and most reliable but slower - can be a wonderful way to arrive in the islands, however to enable maximum enjoyment of the journey we recommend using Kwells/Stugeron if you are prone to motion sickness, as it can be a bit queasy-inducing in rough weather! Leaves Penzance at 0915 every morning and from St. Mary’s at 4.30pm.
  2. Skybus fixed wing aircraft. More expensive but quicker and more departure points and times  (Land’s End, Newquay and Exeter). Can be affected by poor visibility or crosswinds. 
  3. Helicopter - new service for 2020. Should be quick and reliable but more expensive again. Flies from Penzance to St. Mary’s & Tresco. 

One good option which isn’t well known is the sleeper train from London to Penzance which links up with the ferry.

Whilst you should not expect any issues with travel, we highly recommend travel insurance! Being an island on the edge of the Atlantic, the weather can be very changeable and sometimes travel is affected. 

Do hold off booking travel just for now however as we’re hoping to get a discount for swimmers and supporters confirmed soon.

Where to stay

However gorgeous the off-islands are (that’s the smaller ones excluding the main island of St. Mary’s) you’ll find it far more convenient to stay on St. Mary’s where our events are based. If you do want to stay on an off-island you may have to arrange a water-taxi to get you back after the acclimatisation swim and event day as we anticipate finishing after the last scheduled boats. This can be quite expensive.

Staying near to Hugh Town can be more convenient, but wherever you stay on St Mary’s you’re never more than about 2km from the event base.

When do I need to book?

SOON! Scilly gets booked up a long time in advance so it’s worth looking at as soon as you’ve got your place on the swim. Some people have been booking up even before we launched and finding it hard to get somewhere. Sometimes this is because providers haven’t put availability online yet - use the link below if you need help.

Facebook post link - helicopters from Penzance - ferry and plane travel - general information about the islands including accommodation search

Scilly 360 Race 2020

26/09/2019 09:50
Details of our September 2020 event
Responsive image

Following a successful small scale circumnavigation swim event around St Mary’s island in summer 2019, we are nearly ready to open entries for the Scilly 360 Race 2020 which will take place on 12th September 2020!
This will be our 15th swim event and, in line with all previous event from the Scilly Swim Challenge, it will come with our trademark offer :
  • Swimming in a stunning setting and in clear water
  • Second to none on the water and on land support and safety cover from our experienced kayakers, boat handlers, medical team and volunteers
  • The certainty to swim, whatever the weather : we always have a swimmable contingency plan!
  • Friendly atmosphere and camaraderie
  • A chance for supporters to walk along and be part of the event
  • A great after party

What is the SCILLY 360 RACE?

It is a 15km swim all around the island of St Mary’s, broken down into 4 legs of similar distances : 3.5 km, 3.9 km, 4.1 km, 3.5 km
The Scilly 360 Race track - the 4 swim legs around St Mary's Island
  • The race can be swum solo (all four stages) or as part of a relay of 2, 3 or 4 people
    • Solo swim all 4 legs
    • Relays do 1 swim each (4), 2 swims each (2), or divide the legs up as you like (3) - and all team members walk the legs they don’t swim
  • The start and finish points, as well as the starting time of each leg is calculated with the tide (and weather) in mind, so there is a specific window in which to swim each stage. There will be cut off times for each leg and a minimum swim speed of 2.5 km/h is necessary to make the cut off time
  • Each swim leg is timed and the total time is used for the final ranking. Swimmers start each leg altogether. All swimmers have to exit the water at the end of each leg and cannot start until the official start time of the next leg.
  • Because this is a race, swimmers can swim the entire event at their own pace (within the cut of time), and will not be requested to stay in pods as in our Scilly Swim Challenge events. But it is a race, like the London Marathon is a is timed but it is up to you to race it or not.
  • Should a swimmer not meet the maximum swim time they may at the discretion of the race committee be allowed to continue the swim leg but not commence the next leg. If a team member does not complete a swim leg the next swimmer will still be able to swim (at a time indicated by safety staff) but they will not be in the prize category.


Entries for this event will open on Friday 27th of September at 12 noon on our website
The entry price for the Swim Race and the Party is:
  • £130 for an individual
  • £170 for a 2 swimmer relay
  • £210 for a 3 swimmer relay
  • £250 for a 4 swimmer relay


Friday 11 September
  • Registration (Porthmellon Beach, St Marys) : 1430-1700
  • Race briefing and mandatory acclimatisation swim : 17.30-18.30
Saturday 12 September
The swim is expected to start late morning and finish early evening
Sun 13 September
Evening Party on St Mary’s with food for all swimmers and prize giving.
Family and friends are welcome for a charge of £10pp.
(This is also kept as a contingency day for racing).
Event Contingency
Should the planned route not be viable on the 12th of September due to circumstances beyond our control (i.e. weather/sea state), we will look to do an alternative but similar distance swim, either missing a segment or using another location. Should the Sunday (13/9) look significantly more favourable, then we would decide to hold the race on the Sunday instead.


Each swimmer will receive a memento of the swim at Prize Giving (on Sun September 13 at the event party).
Prizes will be awarded in the following categories:
  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd Female Solo
  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd Male Solo
  • 1st Pair
  • 1st Trio
  • 1st Quad

Additional info

  • The minimum age to enter is 16 y old on 12 September 2020
  • Entrants should have experience of open water swimming and have had some sea swimming experience
  • The water temperature in September is expected to be around 15°C. Wetsuits are optional but recommended unless you are acclimatised to swimming long distances skins at 15°C
  • All swimmers should be in a good state of health and be competent swimmers able to swim the distance nominated. Should health issues arise before the event please notify the events team directly, any issues arising during the event dates should be discussed with the Event Medic
Friday, 27 of September, 12 noon, BE READY! See you then!
The Scilly Swim Challenge Team

                                                    View Terms & Conditions

Final information for September 2019 events

22/08/2019 17:19
Click the link below for everything you need to know!
Responsive image

Not long now....

16/08/2019 19:35
With only three weeks until we welcome our two day event swimmers we have a new post from our ambassador Beth French.
Responsive image

This year’s Scilly Swim Challenge is almost upon us, and I for one can’t wait. I missed out on heading over last year- so close and yet so far- for deeply personal and unavoidable reasons. I missed the tribe- the crazy regulars who turn up year on year with more than a glint in their eye to take on whatever the end of the British summer can throw at them- navigating currents and cold water and far too much banter- and that’s the crew! 

The fantastic aquatic adventurers this particular event draws each year are a law unto themselves. Largely non-competitive, they harbour no less elite ability, whether in speedy swimming or spinning a yarn at the after party. Hailing from all walks of life, there’s a certain joie de vivre, a gallant and slightly gutsy approach to activity- a childlike curiosity and wonder that leads them into the crystal waters with a smile and often a sigh- even the odd squeal at the acclimatisation swim as those using wetsuits for the event keep them dry and brave a skins swim! 

The last couple of years have seen the weather be less than kind to the organisers. But they are the best at what they do- and are best placed to do it. Finding swims for the masses even facing 25mph gusts a couple of years ago. Safety is paramount and the sea is a harsh mistress. Channel swimming is a risk takers game- even one only 800m across. And to attempt 6 in a day (or over 2 days) has honed the minds of the Scilly swim crew to a diamond finish (often expressed as slightly crossed eyes by the end of the week) in order to get everyone to have as much water time as our dearly beloved temperate climes will allow.

And this year, we may be joined by a very special guest- frequent scilly swim challenge crew, swimmer and Cornish resident, Mark Richards is hoping the weather sorts itself out for him to attempt to emulate my crossing from mainland to the islands during our week of fun.... I hope we can shepherd him in, whatever the time of day he comes. I cannot stress enough how much I am hoping he gets a chance to paddle his way into view. The swim he is taking on is epic. And we can all experience in microcosm what he will face- the trials and tribulations and trepidation of stepping out of our comfort zone. 

It is such a privilege to be heading back once again to the islands and I hope to see many of you familiar faces- and look forward to tales forged with new selkies very soon. There are unusually still spaces- so any last minute doubters, take heart- a more welcoming, inclusive and well run event you could not hope to find in more stunning surrounds. 

See you all at registration! 

Scilly 360 event information

12/06/2019 15:10
We've just published the information document for the Scilly 360 swim race.
Responsive image

Click to open the event information document.

Preparation and relaxation

30/11/2018 20:20
Apost from 2017 by Beth French, the first person to swim mainland to Scilly and our swim ambassador
Responsive image

The Scilly Swim Challenge is a hot ticket, has been since its inception. So it was only natural to expand. And with the 2 day event, it is even more inclusive and accessible. So, what next?

The waters around the Isles of Scilly look like the Caribbean but are fresher than that at any time of year. Its one of the challenges swimmers face in the September event. So, upping the anti- going in May..... only a degree or 2 cooler, but what a difference that can make! The hardy winter swimmer is on the rise and as yet there is pretty much only the Cork distance week to set your sights on and that is a gruelling matter of attrition. And a week.

The beauty of the isles and the challenge of tackling channels is a perfect antidote to those who aren't afraid to the cold, who want to test themselves and their resolve. The care and support from the crew of the challenge is second to none, which means that you are free to push yourself even more.

Not wanting to teach grandmothers to suck eggs, but I was thinking about how I would have approached swimming in May, given that I am a confirmed skins swimmer. It is doable- I did my 6hr qualifier last year in 11.4'c water, so here are my top tips.....

1) Relax
It seems obvious, but the excitement of an event, especially a challenging one, tends to raise the heart rate. I start to focus on slowing my breath, deepening my exhalation at least an hour before I am due to get wet. It takes the edge off the adrenaline, which will only serve to tighten muscles, restrict blood flow and so make you feel colder.

2) Relax
On entering the water, breathe out long and hard and start swimming. Lengthen your stroke, focus only on the out breath. The body will be doing the inhale bit - short sharp inhalations. Focus on the opposite to avoid hyperventilation. Long, slow out breaths. Also try and soften your lower abdomen. You store a lot of blood in your legs. Even if you're not using them much with a wetsuit, relaxing your pelvis allows better blood flow through your femoral artery, making you feel looser and helping avoid stiffening up when you get out to walk.

3) Relax
Smile. It's fun, if a little daft, what you are doing. And smiling has far reaching physiological and psychological benefits. Your body will adjust better to the different environment if you are happy and relaxed.

4) Drink warm drink before you start
I find it really helps me to relax if I am warm and fuzzy on the inside. If available have a warm drink; Ovaltine, hot chocolate, even hot water. Caffeine raises the adrenaline so doesn't help points 1-3 so personally I would avoid coffee. The water will wake you up plenty!!

5) Pack carefully
Getting warm and if skins swimming, dry (ish) will help you be ready for the next swim. I swear by Eskeez thermals as they are designed to cope with water and I found on my Scilly challenges that they dont feel wet on the 5th and 6th changeover. 

6) Enjoy yourself
Its gonna be great, but one of the best things about the Scilly swim challenge is that it is a personal challenge. More of a group expedition that allows personal endeavour, but very much an expedition rather than a competition. And with the select group you have going this year, I can guarantee you will know everyone by the end of the day. Be open, be honest and have a ball.

Travel Discounts with Isles of Scilly Travel

30/11/2018 19:06
Discounts are now available for the Scillonian III ferry and Skybus flights.
Responsive image

The discount of 10% is only available for phone bookings (+44(0) 1736 334220) and not on their website.
Participants and supporters will have to clearly quote  "Scilly Swim Challenge" at the time of booking for these discounts to be offered and refunds will not be given to those booking on line or via the reservation centre who have not quoted the cupon code. 
Bookings within the following dates are eligible.
  • May event: discount available for travel from Saturday 18th May to Friday 31st May (excluding Saturday 25th May)
  • July event: discount available for travel from Thursday 25th July to Tuesday 30th July  (excluding Saturday 27th July)
  • September events: discount available for travel from Saturday 31st August to Saturday 14th September (no excluded dates)

More details of timetables and routes at