Queen's gambit

Sports | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 15 Oct 2021

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

The 36-year-old completed the gruelling nearly 34-kilometer 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 crossings, held by Kevin Murphy, last year with her 35th swim.

She said this was probably her last crossing 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 said. "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 ... 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 strokes. "It's been a really tough journey, but I've persisted," she said.

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.

McCardel 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."

McCardel, who grew up in Melbourne but lives in Sydney, went ahead with her record-breaking swim despite writing on Facebook on Monday that she was "battling a chest infection."

In 2016 McCardel made the longest Marathon Swimmers Federation-approved unassisted solo ocean swim in history, covering 124kms in the Bahamas.

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