A Grand Recognition of Sarah Ferguson’s Circumnavigation Around Easter Island

With our second installment of Swim Against Plastic just around the corner, taking place in Mexico’s Riviera Maya region November 7-9, we are ecstatic to have Sarah Ferguson’s world-record swim around Easter Island officially recognized by Guinness World Records.

Guinness World RecordsCompleted in the early morning hours of March 16, 2019, Ferguson’s swim was not only a world-record, but also a human first, as she became the first person ever to swim around the iconic island located in the South Pacific. It was part of Plastic Oceans International’s Swim Against Plastic campaign, which combines record-setting endurance sports, with beach cleanups, and youth education, all to raise awareness about the issue of plastic pollution.

Although Ferguson could not attend, Julie Andersen, Global Executive Director for Plastic Oceans International, accepted the award on her behalf at the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Association’s Ocean Fest, on Saturday, October 5, in Redondo Beach, California. Andersen read Sarah’s official statement:

It is such a privilege for me to accept this incredible honor and recognition by Guinness World Records of my swim, especially in the presence of so many incredible, brave, adventurous and other crazy open water swimmers. From pioneering marathon swimmers to ice swimmers, I am humbled to be able to rub shoulders with all of you.

Sarah Ferguson

A below-water shot capturing Sarah as she swims under the moonlit sea around Easter Island. Photo: Wofty Wild.

I have been inspired by people like the late Linda KaiserLynne CoxDiana NyadLewis Pugh and more recently, Cameron Bellamy. This would never have been made possible without the support of a massive global team (more than 7 different countries were represented in making this swim possible). From the team back home who have been with me for over a decade, Lynne Mackey, Kerryn Gibson, Kirsten Van Heerden, Core Medical physios, Angelika Sandri and my friends and family who kept me focused, fed and motivated.

A massive thank you to Spar Eastern Cape and Plastic Oceans International for funding the swim. Tod Hardin, Julie and William: you guys went above and beyond. To footprint for your generous donation and Jeff for joining us on the island, this is crowd – Jamie for the website and support on the island, Hotel Matua, Konui, Tavu, Toto, Mark, Vivi, my team from South Africa who have been through a lot with me- Rentia, Wofty, John and Sarah Houston. Thank you.

I would like to dedicate this achievement to the late Brian Button – my coach of over 20 years who has been with me from my time as a pool swimmer up until recently. You were like a grandfather to me and the best coach I could ever have asked for. You are missed deeply and your influence will live on as I continue to swim to try and save our oceans.

Finally, to my heavenly father, without whom none of this would ever be possible. Thank you.“

Julie Andersen

Julie Andersen accepting the Guinness World Records award at WOWSA Ocean Fest.

Ferguson’s record-setting swim was about 40 miles long and she completed it in just 19 hours and eight minutes, shattering expectations of what had been estimated to be a 24 to 32 hour challenge.

“It truly was something to behold,” said Andersen. “Our entire team was in awe of what we witnessed. We sincerely thank Sarah for her determination to face this immense and dangerous challenge as a means to raise awareness about plastic pollution. We salute her and all those from our collective team that made this a reality and an incredible success story.”

Plastic Oceans would like to sincerely thank all of our sponsors who made Sarah’s swim possible:

Footprint, who came on board as presenting sponsor and rolled up on their sleeves to lend a hand during the event; Crowd, who provided a great website and other marketing/communications support for the campaign, as well as assisting on the island; Hotel Hotu Matua and Rapa Nui Dream, who provided hotel rooms, rental cars, and expertise on Easter Island that proved to be invaluable; Toki Rapa Nui, which is an amazing eco music school that hosted a screening of our documentary, Eating Up Easter; and finally to Breathe Conservation, which is Sarah Ferguson’s amazing non-profit doing invaluable work in Durban, South Africa.

We also can’t thank enough our amazing team at Plastic Oceans Chile, who helped give birth to this idea and whose tireless work were instrumental to its success.

Swim Against Plastic heads to another UNESCO World Heritage Site November 7 to 9, where three Mexican swimmers will attempt another world-record swim, this time along the Riviera Maya region of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Like Easter Island, this region is stunningly beautiful, but is also facing major challenges with plastic pollution, waste management, and other challenges created by an ever-expanding tourism industry. CLICK HERE to learn more.