A CHALLENGE chaser is attempting to be the first person to swim 12km from Sealand, the world's smallest micro-nation, back to the coast.

Richard Royal, 38, wants to make a splash as the first person to dare the relentless swim from the offshore platform in the North Sea back to the mainland.

He is due to begin the six-hour gruelling swim next Monday in average 18celcious water temperatures.

Richard, who lives in Hull, first became aware of Sealand when he studied politics and history at Lancaster University.

The Principality of Sealand is known to be one of the most famous micro-nations.

Located off the coast of Harwich, it was originally built to protect the town from German invasion in 1941 and was home to more than 100 naval officers.

But after the war it was deserted, until 51 years ago when Roy Bates, who operated Radio Essex, turned it into Sealand - an independent country with its own flag, stamps and national anthem.

It has taken Richard about two years to organise and gain the necessary permissions and arrange for a local pilot to skipper an accompanying safety boat.

Richard is being accompanied by a boat and pilot from East Anglia Sea School, based in Levington, Suffolk.

He said: "I’ve taken on a number of organised swimming challenges over the years but this is the first I’ve conceived and organised from scratch myself."

Richard has previously swam from Alcatraz, taken part in an English Channel Relay and is due to compete at the European Masters Swimming Championships in Slovenia later this year.

He added; "It’s down to a combination of my drive to be the first person to do something and my slightly geeky interest in political entities like Sealand.

"It’s going to be a really challenging swim, with currents and tides it’s bound to be longer than 12km and that kind of distance non-stop in the North Sea is tough.

"I’ve been training to increase my endurance over longer distances in open water, but honestly the organisational side of this challenge has taken as much time than the actual swimming element so far.

"Prince Michael of Sealand has been extremely helpful and supportive and I’m hoping to be able to enter the country and get my passport stamped before starting the swim."

To sponsor Richard visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/richard-royal2.