English Channel, just once?
September 20, 2019 6:35 PM   Subscribe

Sarah Thomas completes the first quadruple crossing of the English Channel. On Sunday morning Sarah Thomas stepped into the chilly ocean waters outside of Dover and started to swim to France. Just over 54 hours later, on September 17th, 2019 she became the first person to swim and complete a quadruple English Channel crossing.

Two years ago Sarah was the first person to swim over a 100 miles unassisted in a current neutral environment, with her 104 mile/67 hour swim in Lake Champlain. Shortly after this swim she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and now only a year removed from treatment completed her quad English Channel at 37 years old. She lives and trains in Colorado often at 8000 feet (or more) where she acclimates to cold water and the thin air.

When Sarah was starting her swim, Cameron Bellamy was finishing his own epic swim, completing the longest channel swim in history, swimming from Barbados to St. Lucia. Between the two of them, they were crashing the servers the marathon swimming community uses to track these swims!

Sarah swam the English Channel in just the standard gear, of just a swim suit, goggles, and swim cap. No neoprene to be found! Her swim has caught the attention of the press and even a few (Brexit) cartoons of her!

A documentary The Other Side is being produced about Sarah and her English Channel feat.

A more comprehensive list of incredible marathon swimming results can be found in the longswimsDB a project of the Marathon Swimmers Federation.
posted by Dalton Luceria (22 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Great post! This was a staggering feat of endurance.

(This is a fantastic FIRST post, too)
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:22 PM on September 20, 2019 [11 favorites]


[arrives in France] Oh shoot, I forgot my wallet. [swims back to Dover]

[arrives in France again] Wait, did I remember to turn off the oven?
posted by mbrubeck at 7:43 PM on September 20, 2019 [33 favorites]


The first successful English Channel swim crossing was completed by Matthew Webb in 1875. It would be 59 years before Edward Temme did it twice back-to-back in 1934 and it wasn’t until 1981 before anyone managed three consecutive crossings. Now Sarah Thomas, who dedicated her effort to cancer survivors worldwide, is the only person to do it four times.

Holy shit.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:38 PM on September 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


I can't even fathom the mindset that gets you to accomplish something like this. I'm glad it exists, but it's so far out of my scope of being that I can't even.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:04 PM on September 20, 2019 [10 favorites]


Ridiculous!
posted by growabrain at 11:11 PM on September 20, 2019


And she averaged 2.4 knots - 4 km/h. I can only swim that fast if I exert myself.
posted by hat_eater at 2:34 AM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


Has anyone told her there's a ferry?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:14 AM on September 21, 2019 [11 favorites]


For verification purposes or whatever, I'm sure you have to actually get out of the water, at least momentarily, at the end of each leg. I cannot imagine, after crossing the channel three times, the fortitude it took for her to get back in the cold water for a fourth crossing.

One of the great feats of human endurance.
posted by thenormshow at 4:03 AM on September 21, 2019 [5 favorites]


She won't be the only one doing multiple round trips before Brexit.

Gotta get that wine.
posted by srboisvert at 4:06 AM on September 21, 2019


Wow. That is a very long time to stay awake, never mind swimming continuously. So cool to see someone pushing themselves like this!
posted by mantecol at 4:35 AM on September 21, 2019


Has anyone told her there's a ferry?

There's even a tunnel, but it's a classic case of induced demand.
posted by ckape at 5:33 AM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


EndsOfInvention: "Has anyone told her there's a ferry?"

She would have gone by hovercraft, but it was full of eels.
posted by chavenet at 5:49 AM on September 21, 2019 [6 favorites]


I only recently completed my first 24hr swim, and it wasn't the swimming that concerned me but, staying awake (I love my naps)! At least for 24hrs, the cold water is more than enough to keep you conscious when mixed with a little bit of caffeine.
posted by Dalton Luceria at 6:33 AM on September 21, 2019 [7 favorites]


Somewhere Araminty Brown is nodding in approval.
posted by huimangm at 6:43 AM on September 21, 2019


So do these ultras eat or drink during this? And how? You cant go that long without water...
posted by supermedusa at 8:10 AM on September 21, 2019


I have a friend who just finished her channel crossing and yes, you get fed & watered. You can’t touch the boat, so they throw it to you and you throw it back. There’s usually a small boat / kayak, plus the main boat. There’s also usually a crew of 4-6 to watch you, feed you, sometimes swim parts with you.
posted by dame at 8:17 AM on September 21, 2019 [3 favorites]


From the Guardian:
[Her mother said] “She had a lot of trouble with stomach ache and she did lose her lunch several times. And we were a little worried towards the end of the first day, during that night, because she was not able to hold anything down – water, anything. But we slowly built her back up.”

She said Thomas had sustained herself during the swim by drinking a bottle of carbohydrate shake every 30 minutes. “It is tied to a rope and we are on the boat. She drinks a third of that bottle in 10-15 seconds and then she takes off again. Sometimes she’ll eat solid foods, but we had a lot of trouble finding something that agreed with her on this trip,” Baxter said.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:59 AM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


Also check out the fucking map! She did 134 miles instead of 84 due to the tides.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:01 AM on September 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


Thomas told the BBC: “I just can’t believe we did it. I’m pretty tired right now.” She said she planned to sleep for the rest of the day.

Just the day?!

This is insane.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:35 AM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


There's a really great Netflix documentary about a NZ long distance female swimmer - Kim Swims. Among other things, when preparing for her attempt to swim the Irish Channel, she went 6 months taking only cold showers and put on like something like 35lbs.
posted by maupuia at 3:12 PM on September 21, 2019 [5 favorites]


Wow. That is a very long time to stay awake, never mind swimming continuously. So cool to see someone pushing themselves like this!

multi-day sleep deprivation isn't as cool as it apparently (?) sounds. don't take my word for it, anybody can have a taste, you don't have to be a top athlete. masochism is very democratic that way.

but don't, it's real bad for you
posted by queenofbithynia at 3:57 PM on September 21, 2019


multi-day sleep deprivation isn't as cool as it apparently (?) sounds.

But this amazing, incredible, and inspiring feat of human resilience and endurance is as cool as it sounds.
posted by starfishprime at 10:57 PM on September 21, 2019 [3 favorites]


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