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Sarah Thomas becomes first person to swim the Channel four times non-stop

Sarah Thomas3

Sarah Thomas has become the first person to swim the English Channel four times non-stop. The 37-year-old American landed at Dover this morning at around 6.30BST after an incredible 54 hours and 10 minutes of swimming. Sarah, who is recovering from breast cancer, dedicated her swim to “all the survivors out there.”

She celebrated her historic swim with champagne and M&Ms on Dover beach.

Sarah entered the record books when she made the third turn yesterday afternoon at around 2pm and set off on an unprecedented fourth leg. She is now one of five people to complete a three-way Channel crossing and the only person to complete a four-way.

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The first three laps of the swim followed almost identical routes as Sarah was expertly piloted by Eddie Spelling and crew of Anastasia to land twice on the Cap Gris Nez (the shortest route from England to France). But the fourth lap was a different matter, as rough seas and tiredness took their toll. Sarah’s first three legs were swum in a staggering 11 hours 26 minutes, 12.41 and 12.58. The average solo Channel crossing time is 13.22. But fourth lap took a gruelling 17 hours 5 minutes as Sarah had to dig deep to fight fatigue, heavy swell and strong currents. (Swim splits pending ratification) As the crow files, Sarah swam 84 miles but tides and currents meant the distance she travelled in the water exceeded 130 miles.

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Sarah entering the water to start her swim from Samphire Hoe

In August 2017, Sarah, then 35, of Colorado, swam into the record books with a 104.6-mile unassisted, current-neutral swim in Lake Champlain, USA, and quickly turned her attention to training for an unprecedented four-way English Channel crossing. But in November 2017, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Throughout her treatment, which included chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, she swam as much as she could and kept her eyes on the other side – her goal of becoming the first person to complete that 84-mile quadruple English Channel swim.

She has now completed that epic challenge.

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Sarah setting off on her fourth lap

Main image John Washer

Cover November19

Issue 32 November 2019

  • Mind, Body & Soul - Celebrating the wild swimming community
  • Guide to the Sea - Understanding winds
  • Key Sessions – Keri-anne Payne explains the basics of training
  • Tried & Tested – Neoprene accessories
  • Dark Skies – Exploring nocturnal landscapes with Tiffany Francis

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