Sarah Thomas: Cancer survivor swims Channel four times non-stop in 54 hours

17 September 2019, 13:44 | Updated: 17 September 2019, 17:33

A US cancer survivor has become the first person to swim across the Channel four times non-stop.

Sarah Thomas, 37, completed the challenge in just over 54 hours, arriving in Dover at about 6.30am this morning.

The Colorado swimmer told BBC Breakfast she felt "really tired" and "stunned" after being handed champagne and chocolates as she finished her marathon swim between France and England.

Ms Thomas completed treatment for breast cancer only a year ago.

Ahead of the challenge, she announced she would be dedicating the swim to "all the survivors out there".

The swim was supposed to be 84 miles, but Ms Thomas is likely to have done 130 miles due to difficult currents and tides.

Asked about the worst part of her challenge, Ms Thomas said: "Probably dealing with the saltwater over four days, or two days, it really hurts your throat, your mouth and your tongue."

The 37-year-old also had to deal with "a lot of jellyfish".

She said she had been "very prepared" for the weather, currents and cold water, but admitted to feeling "pretty out of it" afterwards.

The swimmer was fuelled by electrolyte and caffeine-filled drinks and a friend occasionally jumped into the water to pass her food and drink.

Elaine Howley, a member of Ms Thomas's support team, said of the achievement: "It's unfathomable, it's super human, it's just extraordinary.

"I'm not sure there are enough superlatives out there to explain what this meant on many different levels."

Preparations for the swim were put at risk when Ms Thomas began cancer treatment.

Ms Howley said: "Knowing the year that she's been through, with the cancer, it's really important, it's huge for her."

Oceans campaigner Lewis Pugh, who swam the length of the Channel last year, wrote on Twitter: "Extraordinary, amazing, super-human!!! Just when we think we've reached the limit of human endurance, someone shatters the records.

"Huge congratulations to Sarah Thomas on swimming the English Channel 4x continuously!!!"

Ms Thomas has completed a number of endurance challenges, including swimming across Lake Powell in 2016, when she set a distance record of 80 miles in 56 hours non-stop.

She also became the first person to cross Flathead Lake in Montana in 2016 and crossed Loch Ness in the same year.