Swimming Events Guide 2024
English Channel swim

Sophie Etheridge completes longest ever one-way solo English Channel swim

Pending ratification, adaptive swimmer and Outdoor Swimmer columnist Sophie Etheridge has completed the longest ever one-way solo English Channel swim, with a time of 29h, 4m

We are immensely proud of our wonderful columnist Sophie Etheridge, who has completed the longest ever one-way solo English Channel swim (pending ratification) with a time of 29h, 4m.

Sophie, a disabled marathon swimmer and STA Open Water Coach from Cambridgeshire, completed the 30-mile (48km) crossing using only the power of her arms. A swimmer all of her life, Sophie was involved in a car accident in 2011, which left her with hypersensitivity in her legs and using a wheelchair.

Sophie took on this challenge to raise awareness of open water swimmers with disabilities and show what those with disabilities can achieve with the correct support and people around them. She is fundraising for STARLIGHT, a campaign aimed at upskilling swimming teachers for free and qualifying them as specialist disability swimming teachers.

Night terrors

While conditions for the swim were good, the second night posed a challenge for Sophie, as she shared on social media. “Throughout the swim, my crew did more than they will know,” Sophie shared via Instagram. “Obviously feeding was critical, but their faith in me and their encouragement got me through some really rough waters on the second night, when one of my biggest fears was having a boat land on top of me, not about whether I’d land in France or not.

“To give you an idea, I managed to suddenly find myself facing the wrong way on the opposite side of the boat. […] After a chat about my issue and my fear, we figured out the least daunting place to swim – following a circle of fairy lights we attached to the back railing all the way, eventually, to Calais!”

Since her challenge Sophie is having some much needed rest and we’ll chat to her about her epic feat when she’s recovered.

In the meantime, Sophie’s fundraising page is still open. To donate to the STARLIGHT campaign, visit justgiving.com/campaign/starlight-channelswim.

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Abi writes swimming news stories and features for the Outdoor Swimmer website and manages the social media channels. She loves to swim, run, hike and SUP close to her home in Herefordshire. While she’s a keen wild swimmer, Abi is new to the world of open water events and recently completed her first open water mile. She has previously written for The Guardian, BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC History Magazine and Ernest Journal.