Anna Wardley is a British endurance swimmer, suicide campaigner, Churchill Fellow and award-winning charity fundraiser. Anna has tested the limits of human endurance as a record-setting swimmer. Never one to shy away from a challenge, two years earlier she completed a world circumnavigation on a 60-ft ocean racing yacht. Inspired by the unfulfilled ambition of her late father who she lost to suicide at the age of nine, she took a sabbatical from her job to complete the challenge. Raising funds and awareness for causes close to her heart, including the Samaritans in memory of her dad, has always been central to Anna’s endurance swimming challenges. To date Anna has raised in excess of £75,000 and in 2013 she was named Inspirational Woman of the Year in the Johnston Press Awards in recognition of ‘her incredible swimming achievements and outstanding efforts raising money for charity’.
Anna Wardley speaks on the following topics:
Keynote speaker Anna Wardley is a British endurance swimmer, suicide campaigner, Churchill Fellow and award-winning charity fundraiser.
Over the last decade, Anna has tested the limits of human endurance as a record-setting swimmer. However, she didn’t take up swimming until she was in her 30s after reading an article about someone crossing the English Channel.
Despite her lack of experience, she set her sights on the same feat, teaching herself to swim front crawl at her local pool in her lunch breaks. She was 31, had never swum more than 40 lengths but that didn’t put her off tackling the Everest of swimming.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, two years earlier she completed a 38,000-mile circumnavigation in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in mixed crew of 12 on a 60-ft ocean racing yacht. Inspired by the unfulfilled ambition of her late father who she lost to suicide at the age of nine, she took a sabbatical from her job as an economics correspondent for an international news agency to complete the challenge.
A first attempt to swim from England to France in 2007 left her hospitalised with hypothermia, shock and exhaustion after more than 14 hours of swimming, leaving her so crushed that she didn’t get back into the water for more than a year afterwards. But two years later, after making the intensely difficult decision to try again, she successfully swam from England to France. It was a gruelling crossing that took 21 hours and 20 minutes, and for which she was honoured to be awarded the Channel Swimming Association’s Van Audenaerde Trophy for the Greatest Feat of Endurance.
Anna’s other swim credits include from Europe to Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar, from Europe to Asia across the Hellespont Channel, around the islands of Portsea and Jersey, and she has also competed at the World Ice Swimming Championships on the Finnish-Russian border in sub-zero temperatures.
In 2013 she became the first person in three decades to swim solo around the Isle of Wight, covering over 100km in 26 hours and 33 minutes. As a result, she became the ninth Briton to be inducted into the 24-Hour Club, an elite group of swimmers who’ve completed non-stop swims in excess of 24 hours.
Raising funds and awareness for causes close to her heart, including the Samaritans in memory of her dad, has always been central to Anna’s endurance swimming challenges. To date she’s raised in excess of £75,000 and in 2013 she was named Inspirational Woman of the Year in the Johnston Press Awards in recognition of ‘her incredible swimming achievements and outstanding efforts raising money for charity’.
In 2019 she was granted a prestigious Winston Churchill Fellowship to carry out research to improve the support of children after parental suicide. She has been visiting a number of ground-breaking projects which provide support after suicide loss in Australia, the USA and Denmark. Whilst in California, Anna logged an overnight crossing of the 20-mile Catalina Channel to Los Angeles to shine a light on this issue.
Anna has attracted significant media coverage throughout the UK and beyond, and also has a well-established following within the growing international open water swimming and endurance sport communities, which she regularly engages with via social media platforms and blogging.
Anna inspires audiences around the world with her powerful messages of resilience, strength through adversity, harnessing willpower, reframing failure and overcoming fear. Her international clients in the corporate, educational and not-for-profit sectors have included Pfizer (UK), CIBC World Markets (UK), Samaritans AGM (UK), Global Open Water Swimming Conference (Republic of Ireland), Sunshine Coast Falcons Rugby League (Queensland, Australia) and the 6th Australian Postvention Conference on Surviving the Impact of Suicide (Sydney, Australia).
Anna coaches open water swimmers from across the globe out of her base in Mallorca. She is proud to have helped dozens of others to reach their own goals, including British television presenter Davina McCall ahead of her high-profile swim across Windermere as part of her Sport Relief Challenge.
Anna’s speaking themes include:
Resilience: channeling adversity as a source of strength
Mental health and suicide loss: the power of post traumatic growth
The F-word…redefining a failure as an unsuccessful attempt
Channelling our inner power: discovering our inner strength and using it to achieve what is most important to us
“Anna is an inspiring person who has incredible willpower. She really is quite extraordinary. It’s rare to meet a person who is so focused, so driven and so able.” Dame Ellen MacArthur
“Anna has amazing inner strength and determination.” Davina McCall, British television presenter
“I was so inspired by Anna's talk and found it, like the rest of the audience, quite riveting. People didn't stop talking about her for months afterwards.” Pfizer UK
“Anna’s message that anything is possible if you set your mind on it has a powerful impact. She is an inspiring role model and delivers with passion, energy and humour.” National Citizen Service
“Anna immerses her audience and inspires with her passion. She keeps everyone enthralled with her story of sacrifice, pain, determination and the thrill of success.” Seven Seas Club, Whitehall
“It’s not often that you will meet such an inspirational and driven person. I was drawn in by Anna’s entertaining delivery and strength of character…and the power of the human spirit to overcome obstacles and achieve what many would consider the unachievable.” St Vincent's Housing Association
“Anna is crazy, determined but a joyful character. The challenge of getting in the water and swimming is second nature to her and she will not give up. She’s quite remarkable.” CEO Clipper Ventures PLC
“Anna is a truly unique, inspirational and determined character who proves that you can achieve anything if you put your mind and body to it.”
St Helen and St Katharine School, UK
Anna's Showreel – https://youtu.be/xEecUkJjNVk
Please complete the following form to enquire about booking Anna Wardley.