MEET JACK, CALUM AND ROBBIE HUDSON, three brothers born in an English pie-eating county called Yorkshire. As kids these boys loved nothing more than exploring the outdoors together, whether they were kayaking with seals and porpoises in Scottish lochs or paddling with Snappy, their big inflatable crocodile, off the beaches of Devon.
When they grew older, the Hudson brothers moved further up north and found themselves surrounded by the rolling Lake District, with its many rugged peaks and serene waters. Slowly they learned the simple joy of whiling away their summers in nature, jumping off stacks and wild swimming with friends. It was a fun way of staying healthy, whilst also relishing this diverse and ancient playground we have waiting for us outside.
A decade or so later, the three brothers stumbled into that deathly clinch commonly referred to as adulthood. They started to notice that folk, including themselves, were growing increasingly more and more detached from the natural world. Working in cities, they suddenly felt the weight of life in the urban grind - the common monotony of a nine-to-five, when the only wildlife you see is the occasional drab pigeon or seagull - if you’re lucky!
At the same time, the brothers became aware of a sad cycle of fatigue, depression and desperation. Many of their friends were falling into similar patterns of emotion. Social anxiety had become commonplace. It seemed like the absence of nature and wild company was taking its toll on society. Also, the brothers could feel their childhood fading into distant memory, while their futures were often being man-handled by overbearing jobsworths.
So, together they decided to reunite and change their course, and thus, like a big, beautiful butterfly unfolding from its chrysalis, the Wild Swimming Brothers were born.
Little brother Jack (25) - the youngest of the Hudson brothers - is an author represented by the literary agency Curtis Brown. He has always been a keen writer and reader. His most recent book follows his aquatic adventures with his brothers. There will be more exciting news about this soon…
Jack also fancies himself as a bit of a Merman. He has always felt at home in the water and can often be found floating along on the surface when he should really be swimming.
Strength: Paddle-sized hands.
Spirit Animal: Elephant.
Top Swim Spot: Manta Point, Bali.
Life Dream: To live in a colony of monkeys on an island somewhere.
Middle brother Calum (28) holds that irksome central spot. He graduated from Durham uni’ with a hard-earned degree in Law. Next he ground his way through the London tech start-up scene and became a sales manager at Eventbrite. Meanwhile, he was also transforming into a veteran of extreme UK triathlons, having finished the UK Iron Man, Celt Man and The Brutal.
Calum has had a deep love for nature since he first picked up a big, thick encyclopaedia and sat with it propped in his lap, marvelling at the wonders on every page and reading every word.
Weakness: Middle child syndrome.
Strength: Nettle-proof endurance machine.
Spirit Animal: Tasmanian Tiger.
Top Swim Spot: Underground lagoons, Guatemala.
Life Dream: To settle in a log cabin by the sea.
Big brother Robbie (30) is the eldest of the trio. He was the proverbial canary in the cage, sent down to test the gloomy mines of adulthood before the other two. After gaining a degree in Fine Art, he began darting around the world from Australia to India. Eventually, he settled in Berlin, where he now works as an artist, as well as being editor-in-chief of BOXROX. Some of his swim-inspired VARC paintings were also recently shown during a solo exhibition at the Kendal Arts Centre.
From a young age it was clear that Robbie had his mum's artistic genes. He would often draw unflattering caricatures of his teachers and hand-in homework scrawled with detailed doodles. Then he turned his talents to big canvases and later painted using wild swimming as inspiration.
Weakness: Art degree.
Strength: Triangular physique.
Spirit Animal: Turtle.
Top Swim Spot: Pamukkale, Turkey.
Life Dream: Build a secluded studio for making artwork.
Jack: The story began almost three years ago, when we three Hudson brothers started training for our first adventure. Tired of our routines and eager for a reunion, we decided to embark on a nine-day/ninety-mile swim down the River Eden - a river that once flowed past the foot of our childhood home. Over the course of the following year we trained in our respective pools, tallying up more and more miles each day, whilst slowly learning to travel much faster and more smoothly through the water. Towards the end of that year we began to hit the choppy open water, fully aware that the River Eden was going to be very different from our old chlorinated and heated indoor pools.
It was during those next few months of open water prep that we each re-discovered the relaxing joy of swimming wild. Week after week we dove deeper into the sport, extending our distances and improving our techniques. Then we decided to travel to Scotland and swim across the Corryvreckan (the third largest maelstrom in the world). Two weeks after that we were scheduled to walk to the source of the Eden and begin our 90-mile downriver swim. Looking back, I guess that was the start of our adventure together - our first symbolic outing and the first big splash for the Wild Swimming Brothers.
Little did we know, we were about to take the first step on a long and exciting new journey - one that would take us to far-flung islands and beautiful waters, allowing us to raise money and awareness for important causes, whilst also spending time together doing something we've always loved...
Since we started this mad family adventure together we've been darting across the globe, discovering unique places to swim and attempting froth-speckled challenges. We've swum in the blackened waters of the Arctic Circle, weaving between the upturned tentacles of lion's mane jellyfish. We've crossed the three most powerful maelstroms in the world. We even met a big Clydesdale horse with a lovely moustache.
Here’s a list of the big swims we've done so far:
None of this would've been possible if it wasn't for the ongoing support of our wetsuit-clad following. We love you all and your support means the world to us. We couldn't keep launching these expeditions without you - we'd probably try, but we wouldn't get very far.
We also want to say a big thank you to some of our mighty kit and corporate sponsors, as well as a few charities we've worked in partnership with throughout the years: