If you thought swimming across the English Channel once was hard, try doing it four times — without taking a single break. Thirty-seven-year-old American open-water marathon swimmer Sarah Thomas just became the first person in the world to do this, swimming across the English Channel four times nonstop. Originally the swim was projected to span 84 miles, but strong tides resulted in a total length of 130 miles, taking Thomas 54 hours. Every 30 minutes her support crew gave her a protein recovery drink to keep her hydrated and replenish her nutrients, but she took zero breaks during those 54 hours in the water.
Two years before the swim, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent extensive surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Before the swim, on Facebook, Thomas dedicated her swim to other survivors, “This is for those of us who have prayed for our lives, who have wondered with despair about what comes next, and have battled through pain and fear to overcome. This is for those of you just starting your cancer journey and those of you who are thriving with cancer kicked firmly into the past, and for everyone in between.”
The whole swim was a mental struggle with Thomas hitting obstacles during every lap (be it strong currents, tides, jellyfish, or nausea), but she kept swimming despite wanting to quit. When she finally arrived on Dover’s Shakespeare Beach at 6:30 AM on Tuesday, she celebrated with some much deserved candies and Champagne.