An American woman, who had breast cancer last year, has not only become the first female to swim across the English Channel four times in a row, non-stop… but will also go down in history as the first person to do so. And South Africa’s own incredible endurance swimmer – Lewis Pugh – was one of the first to congratulate her.
Pugh tweeted: “Extraordinary, amazing, super-human!!! Just when we think we’ve reached the limit of human endurance, someone shatters the records.
“Huge congratulations to Sarah Thomas on swimming the English Channel 4x continuously!!! 🏴🏊♀️🇫🇷 🏊♀️🏴🏊♀️🇫🇷🏊♀️🏴”
Sarah was meant to swim 129 km from England to France and back (twice)… but due to strong tides, she actually swam almost 209 km! (View her route on the BBC here.)
The 37-year-old began her challenge in the early hours of Sunday morning… and finished on Tuesday at around 07h30 SA time, more than 54 hours later. (She stayed awake by drinking a protein recovery drink, which was thrown to her on a rope every half hour. It contained a mix of electrolytes and caffeine!)
It’s an incredible feat for anyone, but especially for a woman who only finished breast cancer treatment a year ago. It comes as no surprise that Sarah, who hails from Colorado, dedicated her mammoth swim to “all the survivors out there”.
When asked in Dover if she felt “ecstatic” to have achieved this, she joked: “I feel a little sick” (watch below).
Sarah had previously swum across the Channel in 2012 and 2016 (before being diagnosed with cancer in late 2017). But this was so much more.
After braving 54 hours of salt water (“it really hurts your throat, your mouth and your tongue”) and jellyfish stings (even on her face!), Sarah told the BBC – in between sipping on celebratory champagne and chewing on M&Ms: “I just can’t believe we did it. I’m really just pretty numb.”
She celebrated entering the record books and making dry land, with champagne and chocolates.
Her plan was to return to her accommodation in Folkestone and sleep!
She is the first person to have ever swum the fourth crossing, and one of only four swimmers to have ever managed to cross the English Channel three times, swimming non-stop. And she did it all according to the rules – wearing only a cap, goggles and her swimming costume.
Extraordinary, amazing, super-human!!! Just when we think we’ve reached the limit of human endurance, someone shatters the records. Huge congratulations to Sarah Thomas on swimming the English Channel 4x continuously!!! 🏴🏊♀️🇫🇷 🏊♀️🏴🏊♀️🇫🇷🏊♀️🏴 pic.twitter.com/kOa9QlereH
— Lewis Pugh (@LewisPugh) September 17, 2019