Explorer to swim world’s seven seas to honour grandfather who died with dementia

An explorer is hoping to achieve two world records by swimming 10 kilometre marathons in the world’s Seven Seas to visit locations his grandfather who died with dementia either visited or was fascinated by.

Louis Alexander is no stranger to taking on mammoth adventures, having rowed the English Channel in May 2022, finished a swim from Europe to Asia in August 2022, and completed seven marathons in the most remote corners of all seven continents in December.

For his latest challenge, he is to swim 10 kilometre marathons in each of the “classical Seven Seas”, starting with the Red Sea in Egypt on June 3.

Man looking at camera and smiling
Louis Alexander’s latest challenge will see him swimming the Seven Seas (Louis Alexander/PA)

Mr Alexander’s grandfather – Captain Rick Taylor, who served in the British Army for 38 years and died in 2019 with dementia – has always been at the heart of his adventures, with this one being no exception.

“The reason I’ve chosen many of the locations for this challenge is because I’m trying to almost retrace his steps a little bit,” the 24-year-old who is based in London told the PA news agency.

Boy and man smiling together
Mr Alexander and his grandfather when they were younger (Louis Alexander/PA)

“One of the places he was truly fascinated by but never got the opportunity to go to because of his early diagnosis was Egypt, so that’s where I’m going to be starting out.”

Other locations with sentimental connections include Oman, where Captain Taylor spent time when he was in the military.

Mr Alexander made a promise to his grandfather when he was 19 that he would find a cure for dementia and that goal has remained a key component of his feats.

During his running challenge, he carried a letter calling for the Government to invest £16 million in improving dementia diagnostics, to which the Prime Minister replied last week.

“It was amazing for me and my team to be acknowledged for our efforts with the running project,” he said.

Man with swimming shorts and a hat
Louis Alexander has completed swimming challenges in the past but hopes to achieve two world records with his latest feat (Louis Alexander/PA)

“In the letter, he said the Government is going to try and get the current number of people diagnosed from one in three to two in three.

“Getting that number to three in three is the ultimate dream, and I’m sure we can get there.”

Louis Alexander completes 7 marathon challenge
Louis Alexander at the end of his marathon challenge in December (Louis Alexander/PA)

Mr Alexander also hopes to break two records – to become the youngest person to ever swim the classical Seven Seas, as well as to become the first person in history to run the seven continents and swim the seven seas.

He has been collecting evidence to verify these feats, including data from his runs, which he will send to Guinness World Records.

Man posing with letter
Mr Alexander hopes there will one day be a cure for dementia (Louis Alexander/PA)

“It’s tough for anyone to swim for up to five hours non-stop potentially, let alone in the heat, let alone as a red head,” he joked.

He has been preparing for “every eventuality” by carrying out practice swims a few times a week, shoulder mobility work and focusing on being as injury resistant as possible.

“I’m not going out there to try and swim the fastest marathon,” he said.

“It’s about survival in these different seas and weather, and getting the marathons done and continuing to spread awareness for dementia and the fight for a cure, to honour my grandfather.”

Money raised from the challenge is to go to Alzheimer’s Research UK, and more information can be found here: https://www.justgiving.com/page/thesevenseas

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