Swim The Big Blue Expedition Support and Training Team
Swim The Big Blue Skipper
Nigel Taylor-Schofield - Captain - Support Vessel 1 - "Big Blue"
To misquote W. S. Gilbert: “I have sailed the oceans blue, on saucy ships with beauties; I’m a sober man at sea, and attentive to my duties”.
I started sailing in 1981 in the Royal Yorkshire Regatta with my brother-in-law and have been hooked ever since, covering tens of thousands of sea miles on over 60 different vessels including three transatlantic crossings and being master of the historic yachts Great Britain II and Ocean Leopard; I am a British Seaman and registered Master Yachtsman.
There are not many ‘firsts’ left in this World and I am looking forward to helping Ben join that exclusive and elusive club. To boldly go where no man has gone before and conquer any frontier requires a man (or woman) of steel with dogged determination somewhere between eccentricity and madness. I taught Jim Shekhdar’s daughter whilst he became the first person to row the Pacific alone and unassisted and worked as captain on Chay Blyth’s yacht Great Britain II; there can only ever be one first! Swim little fishy, swim. Nigel T-S
Russell Sandbach - Chief Mate - Support Vessel 1
Returning to sailing after a 30 year break to take part in all 8 legs of the 2011/12 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, I have continued with my love of sailing at every opportunity ever since. With three Atlantic crossings, two Equator crossings and a Pacific crossing behind me I’ll know what to expect and can bring experience with me which will be invaluable. Russell says, “I’ll be doing my best to make sure the boat doesn’t stop Ben achieving his dream and am looking forward to stepping off in Brazil for a beer, a steak and a stable toilet."
Sailing Crew - Support Vessel 2 - "Maid of Crete"
I'll never forget the first time I stepped foot on a sailboat at the ripe age of 5 years old. Even though it was a cold windy fall afternoon on the Niagara river with my hands gripping to the nearest lifeline I felt a sense of freedom, passion for the sport of sailing and for being on the water. Over the years my passion and confidence has grown my experiences include 10 years coaching sailing, competing in many regattas in the laser, j22 and shark fleets and sailing throughout the caribbean and North sea. I also am an avid scuba diver and Surface supplied diver. I am honoured to help Ben achieve his goal and to be part of this expedition with Capt Nick and Sally on Maid of Crete.
Anita Brouwer – Sailing Crew Leg 1 - Support Vessel 1
Well what can I say. I am the one with less/no experience of sailing, so I must be a little crazy. In June 2012, I left the Netherlands to live and work on Grand Canaria/Puerto Mogan. Some experience on a sailing yacht I have gained as a hostess sailing along the coastline of Grand Canaria. Freedom I felt from the first moment I boarded. Even though I am only a small part of this great expedition a dream comes true and I feel honored to join the crew under supervision and dear friend Captain Nigel Tay
Pam "Strange Scotish woman seeks adventure...."
What kind of crazy-man can swim the Atlantic Ocean? I must be there to see this for myself! Over fifteen years service as rapid response paramedic with the Scottish Ambulance service I have seen heart-breaking and heart-warming moments. When Ben steps onto dry land in Brazil and sees his daughter again, there won't be a dry eye in the house. I'll be watching YOU Ben Hooper, so do as I say not as I do!
UK LAND SUPPORT - MEDICAL/EMERGENCY/RESCUE/WEATHER
Meteorologist Stephanie Ball (FRMetS)
MeteoGib is a private Marine and Commercial Weather Consultancy based in Gibraltar, and launched early 2015 by professional Meteorologist Stephanie Ball (FRMetS).
Previously, Stephanie was an employee with the UK Met Office for circa 30 years where she gained extensive experience in Meteorology - from forecasting for the busy English Channel and Strait of Gibraltar to forecasting for high profile sporting events such as Wimbledon and Cowes week, along with presenting the weather on National UK radio via BBC Radio 5 Live.
Stephanie now makes this extensive experience available through MeteoGib and is the main Weather consultant for Gibraltar’s GBC TV and Radio Gibraltar. MeteoGib aims to promote safety in Sailing and Mountaineering through its Weather4Marine & Weather4Mountain services by getting essential weather data to users in more remote areas. MeteoGib has already successfully supported expeditions to the Patagonian glaciers and an ascent of the 7,000m peak Khan Tengri in Kazakhstan.
Lisa Powell- UK Land Support (communications, updates and expedition liaison)
Born in Blackburn Lancashire, Lisa lived in Scarborough until ten when she moved to Cyprus. not being a swimmer when she arrived in Cyprus she begged her Dad to teach her; he took Lisa out on a peddlo and got her to swim back to the shore and told her if she could do that she could swim in the pool. Obviously a natural, Lisa started swimming for her school. On return to England Lisa started diving with Cheltenham swimming and waterpolo club until developing Glandular Fever and was unable to continue. Her love of swimming stayed and she qualified in lifeguarding and ASA level two swim teaching with which she has proudly taught at Charlton Kings Junior School for twelve years. Lisa first met Ben two years ago and was instantly hooked, wanting to help as she was struck by his genuine, enthusiastic nature and has watched him train for this epic swim ever since.
Charlotte Jones as UK land support (communications, updates and expedition liaison) /Physiotherapist
Charlotte first met Ben 4 years ago when he walked into the Physiotherapy clinic she was working in. When he started to turn his dream of swimming the Atlantic into a reality he got in touch to ask if she would like to be part of the Big Blue crew. Being a single mother of three teenagers it was impossible to be away from home for 4 months. Instead she has been part of the team working with Ben to help make the expedition happen. Providing Physiotherapy support, numerous trips to Norfolk to prepare the boat, her dining room is currently storage space ( it’s amazing what you find in there!) She continues to support the expedition, Ben and crew from back home providing land based support and is in constant communication with the Big Blue.
Charlotte went straight from school to the Middlesex Hospital School of Physiotherapy, London and has been working as a Physiotherapist for over 20 years. Charlotte runs her own Private Physiotherapy Practice with clinics in Cheltenham, Cirencester, Fairford and Chedworth. She has always had a particular interest in sports injuries and has had experience treating a wide variety of both professional and hobby sports people from many different sports including swimming, football, polo, cycling, triathlon and worked for a Rugby club for 3 seasons.
Over the last 4 years Ben has become a close friend and with his drive, enthusiasm and the training he has put in he deserves to succeed in his amazing challenge.
LAND BASED SUPPORT - TRAINING TEAM
Personal Trainer - Katie Mumford - Gym & Pool Support (Cheltenham/USA)
Katie has worked in the fitness industry for a number of years and has been personal training for the last two after completing her BSc Sports Fitness degree. During this time she has helped a variety of people rediscover exercise and achieve their goals no matter how small or big. Fitness has always been a big part of her life. She is a keen skier and swimmer but also enjoys playing football and golf. I am honoured to be working with Ben on this expedition due to my own personal love of swimming and I am fascinated at just how extreme his goal is. I can see how determined and passionate Ben is to cross that finish line and will do everything I can to ensure he gets there in the best possible shape. I will work with Ben both in the water and on land with fitness and conditioning programmes and also providing that much needed cuppa and chat to help keep him swimming on one stroke at a time! If anyone’s going to do this it will be Ben!