Aussie swim 'queen' McCardel set to retire after Channel record

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Australian Chloe McCardel swam the English Channel for a record 44th time (AFP/Ben STANSALL)

Australian long-distance swimmer Chloe McCardel said Thursday she would likely retire after breaking the world record for the most swims across the English Channel.

The 36-year-old completed the gruelling 21-mile (nearly 34-kilometre) swim between England and France for the 44th time on Wednesday, surpassing the previous record of 43 she jointly held with Britain's Alison Streeter.

McCardel had already beaten the men's record of 34 crossings in 2020, and said it was probably her last after devoting 12 years of her life to earn the official Queen of the Channel title.

"I'm really happy to just retire as Queen," she broadcaster ABC. "Forty-four is a lot. I don't feel any compulsion to go back, there's no other record in the Channel that excites me.

"That record is really the most prestigious and I am just so happy to have it."

After setting off from the English coast in the early hours, she took around 10 hours to reach the shore at Pointe de la Courte Dune near Calais in France, with McCardel estimating she made 36,000 arm strokes.

The Channel is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes and as well as passing cargo ships and ferries, changing tides and waves can add extra distances for swimmers.

She also had to contend with jellyfish, seaweed and debris.

"You've gotta do it for the love of it," she said. "Marathon swimming is a sport that is so incredible and enthralling. You're out in nature... I just find it so compelling."

Sydney-based McCardel made the longest Marathon Swimmers Federation-approved unassisted solo ocean swim in history in 2016, covering 124 kilometres (77 miles) in the Bahamas.

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