London - An American breast cancer survivor on Tuesday became the first person
to swim across the English Channel four times non-stop in a 54-hour
feat of endurance.
Sarah Thomas, 37, an open water marathon
swimmer from the US state of Colorado, could be seen in a video posted
on Facebook arriving at Dover on the southern English coast with a group
of supporters cheering her on.
"I feel a little sick," she is
heard saying following the herculean effort, which reportedly saw her
cover close to 130 miles (209 kilometres) due to strong tides.
four swimmers have previously completed the approximately 21-mile
Channel crossing between Britain and France three times without
"I just can't believe we did it," Thomas told the BBC.
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
Thomas said the hardest part was dealing with the
salt water, which left her throat and mouth sore, while she also got
stung in the face by a jellyfish.
The athlete relied on a protein
recovery drink mixed with electrolytes and caffeine - which was tied to
a rope and thrown to her every 30 minutes - to complete the feat,
according to her mother.
Endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh wrote on Twitter that her achievement was "extraordinary, amazing, super-human".
"Just when we think we've reached the limit of human endurance, someone shatters the records," he wrote.
In a post on Saturday before setting off, Thomas wrote: "This swim is dedicated to all the survivors out there.
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," she wrote.
The marathon swimmer received the
cancer diagnosis four months after an unprecedented August 2017 non-stop
solo swim of 104.6 miles in Lake Champlain on the US-Canada border.
underwent treatment for the aggressive form of breast cancer - which
had already begun spreading to the lymph nodes under one of her arms - in the summer of 2018, according to a fundraising website for a
documentary about her achievements.
"I was at the peak of my
athletic accomplishments... and then I got diagnosed with cancer,"
Thomas said in a video posted on the Kickstarter website.
part of who I am now, part of my story. I just hope it never comes back
but if it does, to know that I did everything I wanted to do in life."
the video Thomas, who finished her first open-water event in 2007 and
had previously made two Channel swims in 2012 and 2016, said swimming
across the Dover Strait had been a lifelong dream and "just as hard as
climbing Mount Everest".
"When you're a kid you just dream of swimming the English Channel."