Aussie marathon swimmer to challenge English Channel record

·2 min read
Channel challenge: Australian swimmer Chloe McCardel (AFP Photo/ADALBERTO ROQUE) (AFP)

Sydney (AFP) - Australian endurance swimmer Chloe McCardel is planning to create a slice of history with a 35th crossing of the English Channel after being given a special exemption to travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

Considered one of the greatest ultra-swimmers of all time, she has so far tamed the treacherous stretch of water between England and France 31 times and is planning to add four more crossings within the next month.

If successful, she will beat the most by a male, which at 34 is held by Kevin Murphy. Fellow Briton Alison Streeter is the greatest of all-time, completing the swim 43 times.

"I am so grateful to have the opportunity to travel and chase my dreams when so many people are doing it so tough right now," McCardel said on Facebook, with her first swim from Dover expected on Wednesday, conditions permitting.

There is currently a ban on overseas travel from Australia due to COVID-19, but she was considered a special case due to the record attempt, and departed late last week.

The English Channel is famous for its strong tides, cold water, busy shipping traffic, debris and unpredictable weather, making it the jewel in the crown of marathon swimming.

McCardel, 35, told her local Manly Daily newspaper: "It will be a real achievement to do so many, one a week for four weeks.

"I use my swimming as a vehicle to inspire people," she added.

"The actual process of going on a journey, bringing people on with me and the way I can move people, inspire people to get fit or go for their first 5km run or do their first ocean swim ... that's what drives me."

McCardel was the first Australian to complete a triple non-stop crossing of the Channel, and holds the world record for the longest unassisted ocean swim after covering 124.4 kilometres in the Bahamas in 2014.

She famously attempted to become the first person to swim, without a shark cage or wetsuit, non-stop from Cuba to the US state of Florida in 2013, but was forced to call it quits after 11 hours due to a severe jellyfish sting.