Sarah Thomas swims in English Channel between England and France.—AFP
Sarah Thomas swims in English Channel between England and France.—AFP

LONDON: An American breast cancer survivor on Tuesday became the first person to swim across the English Channel four times non-stop in a 54-hour feat of endurance.

Sarah Thomas, 37, an open water marathon swimmer from the US state of Colora­­do, could be seen in a video posted on Facebook arriving at Dover on the southern English coast with a group of supporters cheering her on.

“I feel a little sick,” she is heard saying following the herculean effort, which reportedly saw her cover close to 209 kilometres due to strong tides.

Only four swimmers have previously completed the approximately 21-mile Channel crossing between Britain and France three times without stopping. “I just can’t believe we did it,” Thomas told the BBC.

“I’m really just pretty numb. There was a lot of people on the beach to meet me and wish me well and it was really nice of them, but I feel just mostly stunned.” Thom­­as said the hardest part was dealing with the salt water, which left her throat and mouth sore, while she also got stung in the face by a jellyfish.

The athlete relied on a protein recovery drink mixed with electrolytes and caffeine — which was tied to a rope and thrown to her every 30 minutes — to complete the feat, according to her mother.

Endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh wrote on Twitter that her achievement was “extraordinary, amazing, super-human”. “Just when we think we’ve reached the limit of human endurance, someone shatt­ers the records,” he wrote.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2019