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Meet Lynne Cox

In the first of our new series of Outdoor Swimmer patron events, veteran long-distance swimmer Lynne Cox shared stories of her early Channel swims, her preparation for endurance swims and crossing the Bering Strait at the height of the Cold War.

Lynne Cox is an American long-distance open-water swimmer, who first rose to fame when she broke the English Channel record aged 15. Over the course of more than 35 years, Lynne accomplished swims that set world records and opened borders, contributed to medical research, supported environmental causes and inspired people to overcome great obstacles. She is best known for her mission to broker peace between Russia and the USA by swimming the Bering Strait on 7 August, 1987.

During our virtual Outdoor Swimmer patron event, readers asked Lynne about her motivation when swimming against the current, her desire to bring people together even when their countries were in conflict and how she prepares for an endurance swim in 4ºC water.

“Lynne was the perfect first guest for our new series of Patron events: warm, informative and engaging,” said Simon Griffiths. “We received some lovely feedback from people who joined the call.”

“Thank you so much for organising the time with Lynne. The water world is indeed something special – and if you can’t swim just go to your computer and listen to someone like Lynne talk about not only swimming, but life as a swimmer. I am still smiling!”

Rob Lines, Toronto, Canada

Lynne began by sharing her personal swimming story. She told us how she was inspired to swim the Channel at age 15. But not only did she want to swim the Channel, she wanted to set the world record for it. Following her Channel swim, Lynne decided that she wanted to be either the first swimmer or the first woman to complete other swims around the world.

After a series of firsts, she decided to focus on swims with more political and historical importance. It was the height of the Cold War, and so she settled on swimming between two islands in the Bering Strait – Little Diomede, which was part of the USA, and Big Diomede, part of the Soviet Union. It took some 11 years to secure all the necessary permissions and to arrange the logistics. As an athlete, she told us “you are trusted and welcome” and that “being a swimmer has melted distances”.

Join out next event

Meet Dr Mark Harper at the next Outdoor Swimmer Patron event on 6 October. Find out more about becoming a patron here.

More about Lynne Cox

“Swimming is my language”. In our September issue (on sale now), Jonathan Cowie speaks to Lynne Cox, record-breaking marathon swimmer and all-round open water swimming legend. Peace: Special Edition with Lynne Cox. Listen to the SwimOut podcast as Jonathan Cowie talks to legendary swimmer and writer Lynne Cox.

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Jo is the Gear Editor for Outdoor Swimmer and also writes news and features for the website. A keen open water swimmer and long-distance walker, she loves seeking out lakes and lidos close to her home in the Mendip Hills, Somerset. She is the author of The Slow Traveller, editor and founder of independent magazine, Ernest, and has previously tested outdoor clothing and kit for BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC Focus and Ernest Journal.