Nathan Payas - Around Gibraltar

Western Beach to Eastern Beach

11.4 km (7.1 miles)

2 hours, 33 minutes on 20 September 2020

Observed and documented by Jenny Olivera

Fastest Known Time



  • Name: Nathan Payas
  • Gender: male
  • Age on swim date: 41
  • Nationality: Gibraltar
  • Resides: Gibraltar

Support Personnel

  • John Payas - coach
  • Ariella Payas - crew
  • Christine Payas - crew

Escort Vessel

Name Type Port
Sway with Me Monterey ss258 Gibraltar


Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: Speedo brief, silicone cap, goggles (Arena cruiser)

Route Definition

  • Body of Water: Mediterranean Sea
  • Route Type: one-way (semi-circumnavigation)
  • Start Location: Western Beach (shore) (36.153200, -5.351300)
  • Finish Location: Eastern Beach, Northern Groyne Rocks (36.150700, -5.338600)
  • Minimum Route Distance: 11.4 km (7.1 miles) (map)


There have been a number of swims around Gibraltar, though MSF is unaware of any organized records. The fastest known time before Nathan's swim was by Thum Ping Tjin of Singapore - 2 hours, 52 minutes on 28 July 2005.

Swim Data

  • Start: 20 September 2020, 15:59:30 (Central European Time, Europe/Madrid, UTC2).
  • Finish: 20 September 2020, 18:33:01
  • Elapsed: 2 hours, 33 minutes, 31 seconds.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (C) 18.9 18.9
Air Temp (C) 25 25
Wind (knots) 11 11

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 5 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Click to expand map.

Speed Plot

Nutrition: Lucozade Sport, 500ml (1h8m). Half banana & Lucozade (1h55m).

Observer Log

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Gibraltar Port Authority monitored the swim throughout and was in communication with Pilot via VTS. Entrance to the port at Mole openings controlled by the port which swimmer swam across them on the outside. Other vessels informed of swimmer in the water as it customary.

Local colleague, Bluefin Open water swimmers monitoring swim from land throughout (videos available) and waited at the finish to greet the swimmer’s arrival, as well as other family members and friends.


by Nathan Payas

What inspired you to do this swim?

Swimmer: I have swam around the rock 6 times (one was a double rtr). I clocked 2:58 on the way to a double round the rock in 2016 (fastest Gibraltarian swim) – total time for the double was 6hrs 33mins. That was the year I swam the English Channel in 9hrs 13 mins (Fastest CS&PF swim 2016) and the Strait of Gibraltar in 3hrs 15mins. I have the second fasted ever Round Jersey swim, one minute off the record. I was the fastest swimmer round Manhattan 20 bridges on the day, in 7 hours 21mins. I am also the 8th fastest ever in aggregate for the Triple Crown.

I’ve been wanting to hold the record for the fastest round the rock (rtr) Gibraltar swim for many years. Now that I’ve done it, I would like to get it ratified and establish the route officially. Through all my rtr swims I’ve established that the end of the swim should be the Northern Groyne rocks. Some people previously finished closer along the beach – a shorter swim. Recently swimmers have been swimming all the way to the furthest point. The Northern Groyne is the last point before the Airport fence, and beyond is the frontier and Spain.

Please describe how you planned for the swim.

Minimum of 5 sessions per week. 2 to 3-hour swims at least once a week. This is a shorter swim than what this swimmer is used to prepare for.

How did the swim go, generally? Did you face any unanticipated challenges?

Choppier than expected on the Bay of Gibraltar side causing a little sea sickness. Favorable tide coming a little later than expected. But all in all, a well-timed swim and a good feeling throughout.



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Appendix A: Tide & Wind

High tide was at approximately 6pm as per the charts. We have a screenshot of the tides the day before: (tides were slightly smaller on the Sunday – but it was still Spring tide).