Accomplishing the feat in 54 Hours, Open Water Swimmer Sarah Thomas swam four laps of the English Channel just one year after completing her final treatment for Breast Cancer. She is the first person in history to swim four laps of the English Channel in a row that represents one of the greatest triumphs in human endurance.
She stepped into the water early last Sunday morning to take on the 130 mile challenge which she finished in 54 hours and finishing right at dawn on Tuesday morning (London Time).
She dedicated her feat of strength and endurance to “all the survivors out there.” After she came out of the water, in an interview with the BBC she said:
“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.”
During her last lap, she had to contend with choppy seas and ever-worsening conditions, she shared:
“My crew was really great about helping me out and keeping me strong. Every length had something that was really hard about it. Coming back from France the last time was definitely hard. It took forever and the current pushed me all over. I got stung in the face by a jellyfish and it wasn’t as cold as I thought it might be but it was still chilly.”
Her accomplishment since finishing has been making waves (pun intended) around the world as millions of people in the swim community, cancer survivors, friends, family, supporters and people who haven’t even heard the name “Sarah Thomas” responded with praise and cheers for her strength and resilience in accomplishing this challenge.
Thomas has become the sole member of a unique club in being the only person to complete four laps of the English Channel without stopping. There are four swimmers who have crossed the channel three times without stopping but she is the first to complete four.
For Thomas, swimming was a way to help her cope with her cancer treatment. Her nutrition and fuel during the swim consisted of a protein drink with electrolytes and caffeine mixed in that she had a small dose every 30 minutes. This was in a bottle that her swim crew tied to a rope and thrown to her when the crew could catch her attention. At the end of each lap, Thomas had a 10-minute rest period before she would start again.
Her finish was emotional for Thomas along with her family, race crew, friends, and official observers who were inspired by her feat of strength. Now that her marathon swim is finished, Thomas has already started her next marathon, bed.
By Dirk Smith
Photo by Jon Washer Photography