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Woolhampton woman a possible record breaker after cross-Channel swim with friend

A Woolhampton woman joined her friend to swim across the English Channel and back last week, clocking in at just over 22 hours.

Emma Smith and her companion, Basingstoke-based Sarah Liles, took to the water for the fundraising bid last Tuesday, finishing up on Wednesday morning.

Having waited for the ideal weather conditions, they swam the distance between Dover and Calais, egged on by a support crew comprised of close friends.

The pair after completing their feat.
The pair after completing their feat.

Training was extensive, and the duo had already swam the Channel one way in 2018.

Mrs Smith said of this: "Because we found that quite straightforward, we were like 'we need to do something harder'.

"We did a lot of training – you can choose whether you do one hour on, one hour off, or two hours on, two hours off.

The swim took just over 22 hours.
The swim took just over 22 hours.

"We chose two hours on, two hours off.

"Back in the beginning of July, we did five of those sessions, starting at six in the morning and finishing at midnight."

Mrs Smith believes she and Mrs Liles may have broken the record for the fastest Channel relay attempted by a duo in both directions, although this has yet to be officially confirmed.

She paid tribute to her supporters, who accompanied the pair throughout their epic swim.

A break during the feat.
A break during the feat.

She said: "You take a crew with you, so we took four friends with us.

"They really are key, because, as soon as the swimmer gets out, they are there to get you dry, get you changed, get you fed, make sure you stay warm.

"They were absolutely fantastic with us, and we were really lucky to have them."

The feat was in support of charity, and the duo's Virgin Money Giving page has so far raised more than £2,000, exceeding their initial target.

All proceeds generated are to be donated to Macmillan Cancer Support – with both women having lost parents to cancer – and to the Thatcham-based Charlie Waller Trust, which offers mental health services to young people.

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