Ultramarathon swimmer

Meet Nathan Payas, a senior manager in Advisory and Business Development officer based in Gibraltar

Read Nathan's exciting story

Pushing myself to the limit

Being an ultramarathon swimmer is about pushing yourself to the limit. Although, somewhat paradoxically, it’s also a stress relief from my busy lifestyle. Swimming rests my mind and can renew my spirit when I am feeling down.
It is a privilege to have this ability and passion, and I’m grateful to have found it in my life. Swimming surrounds me with close friends and has created the opportunity to make many new ones. And of course, it keeps me in good shape. It’s also a great conversation starter!

There’s a thrill in crossing a busy channel

Being able to say you are an English Channel swimmer, and that you have swum across the Strait of Gibraltar and back (in one go!), is an incredible source of pride. And there’s a thrill in crossing a busy channel or swimming in rough seas. Or having a mother and calf pilot whale swim underneath you out of curiosity, so close that you could touch them if you reached down.

“When I swam through the night in the Pacific Ocean, the first two hours were terrifying.”

Nathan Payas, Senior Manager, Advisory

Being stung by jellyfish

There is also the pain that comes from six hours of non-stop swimming. Being stung by jellyfish that feels like you have set off a mouse trap. The unpredictable sea sickness. The night after the swim when your body feels like it’s been poisoned with toxins and lactic acid. The fear that you may have taken your body a little too far and the potential repercussions to your health. What many people don’t know is that some swims are done at night when the wind is kinder. When I swam through the night in the Pacific Ocean, the first two hours were terrifying. There was a large swell and very little light.

Having one goal in mind

I swam into planks of wood, plastic, jellyfish – and my feet got nibbled for some time by unknown sea creatures. I swam for six hours in the dark before the sun started to rise. I landed at the Los Angeles coastline in 9hrs 34mins, in the early morning. Cold water conditioning is also more important than being able to swim 30km – ultramarathon swimmers don’t typically swim in neoprene suits, which provide warmth against the cold. It’s really tough training in the middle of the winter when the water feels like sharp daggers stabbing you. But you keep going. Because ultramarathon swimmers only have one goal in mind – complete the swim challenge

“Ultramarathon swimmers only have one goal in mind: complete the challenge”

Nathan Payas, Senior Manager, Advisory