Open Water Swimming Goggles Break Channel Record
Sarah Thomas (37) swims from Dover, England to Calais, France and back twice (totaling around 80 miles / 129km, with tidal pulls around 130 miles / 209km) in just over 54 hours.
With the latest open water swimming equipment, she had a far greater chance of surviving the hypothermia, injuries and diseases of open water swimming.
The Dangers of Swimming the English Channel
During her swim, Sarah Thomas, from Colorado, USA abided by the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation rules, wearing only a swimming cap, ear plugs, open water swimming goggles and an open water swimming wetsuit for the entire swim. The 37-year-old, who has been swimming long distance since 2007, swears by Kaiman EXO goggles, without which she could suffer a variety of temporary or permanent visual disorders associated with open water swimming, especially for long durations, such as pterygium. She stated “I only wear Kaiman EXO goggles. They are the only ones I’ve worn for open water swimming for years! They are comfortable, clear, durable, give me good range of sight and don’t fog. They are my favourite for sure.” Her bright yellow Marathon Swimmers Federation swimming cap kept her warm while ensuring her team could keep track of her from a nearby boat. She also used zinc oxide body paste to reduce the effects of harmful UV rays on her skin and a range of nutrional protein-based drinks to keep her energy levels high. She chose to use an open water swim suit rather than a full body open water swimming wetsuit, trading body temperature and protection against jelly fish, predators and debris for decreased weight and a greater range of movement.
The reason Sarah can withstand the mental and physical demands of open water swimming for over 54 hours may stem from her recent battle with cancer, being diagnosed in 2017 and overcoming the condition in 2018. She set her sights on the record after recovering, dedicating the swim to her fellow survivors and those who have sadly been lost to the condition. Her accomplishments to date include holding the record for the longest distance open water swim, four awards for open water swimming and induction into two swimming halls of fame. The 2019 crowdfunded documentary The Other Side covers her journey to gaining this record.
Speaking to the BBC after she came ashore at Dover, the open water ultra-marathon swimmer said: "I just can't believe we did it. I'm really just pretty numb.”
Swimming from England to France and Back Again
Sarah’s English Channel swim was from Dover, England to Calais, France and back twice which should have totaled around 80 miles or 129km, however with tidal pulls she actually swam around 130 miles or 209km. That is equal to over 4185 lengths of an olympic size swimming pool or longer than 2287 football pitches. Her four lengths beat the previous record of three, which was set in 1981 by Jon Erikson. The swim ended at 6:30am and took over 54 hours, which is 34 hours longer than the average time it takes an adult to learn how to swim. The temperatures during her English Channel swim ranged from 15 degrees, which is the warmest air temperature recorded in Antarctica, to 5 degrees during the night, which is only 3 degrees warmer than the recommended temperature for a home refrigerator. Those temperatures, and the hypothermia they can cause, are why it is important to wear specialist open water swimming goggles during such exercises. This record is a commendable feat of endurance that brings to mind the swim Ross Edgley completed around Great Britain in 2018, tackling 1,780 miles over 5 months. However, this trial of endurance may be more impressive despite the shorter distance. Ross spent 6 to 12 hours per day in the water, resting and sleeping for the other 12 to 18 hours a day, whereas Sarah rested for just 40 minutes in total, with no sleep.
Swimmer Lewis Pugh said in a tweet: "Just when we think we've reached the limit of human endurance, someone shatters the records."
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