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Michael Phelps might hold almost every Olympic swimming record, but there's at least one thing Sarah Thomas has accomplished that would probably leave Phelps all wet. In 2019, the 37-year-old Thomas set a world record by swimming the English Channel four times in a row.
The accomplishment is stunning on its own, but it's made even more remarkable by the fact that the American swimmer had defeated breast cancer only a year earlier. The challenge took Thomas 54 hours, in part because instead of swimming an anticipated 80 miles (129 km), she had to struggle against a strong current that made her distance closer to 130 miles (209 km). During her grueling achievement, Thomas consumed only a protein drink and was stung in the face by a jellyfish at one point.
About the English Channel:
- Weapons from both world wars were dumped in the Channel, were they remain at some of its deepest parts.
- Capt. Matthew Webb was the first person to swim across the channel, in 1875; he was also stung by jellyfish.
- The Channel Tunnel, also known as the Chunnel, contains the longest underwater section of any such tunnel in the world.