Vast and expansive, the Pacific Ocean is the stuff of legends, and home to some legendary sea creatures, from Blue Whales and Giant Squids to Great White Sharks.

Sydney Heads, Australia

2006 | 33°S 151°E
16km: 6 hrs 1 min

Australia is a great swimming nation. Which is why we choose Sydney for the last (Pacific) leg of our Five Oceans challenge. When Australian swimmer Ben Maguire and I dove in at outer Manly Beach at sunrise, my  old friend Ben Smith was next to us, navigating the support Zodiac over the surf.

It was 16 kms to the Sydney Opera House, but first we had to make it through the Heads. There had been a shark attack in Sydney Harbour a few weeks earlier, so we’d attached an electronic anti-shark device to the boat. Or so we thought: just before we reached the Heads, ‘granny-knot’ Smith admitted that the device had been lost in the swell. I decided to stick close to the Australian – at least we’d each have 50-50 odds!

We were about 500 metres from the harbour when the harbourmaster blocked our way. We’d asked, but hadn’t obtained, his permission (we just couldn’t afford the astronomical insurance levy). But Smith (a lawyer by profession) distracted him with arguments while I made it to the finish. I’ve learned that it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission; if you wait for permission, some things will simply never happen!

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