IMAGINE swimming non-stop for more than 24 hours to complete a distance equal to 2000 laps of a 50m swimming pool without resting or sleeping.
That’s what Aussie ultra marathon swimmer Chloe McCardel has achieved in her ambitious attempt to become the first person to swim across the English Channel four times non-stop.
Unfortunately, after making it 102.5km of the 136km journey the 32-year-old from Melbourne had to pull out of the attempt on lap three.
A post on her official Facebook page informed supporters the athlete had to stop because of breathing issues.
“It is with great regret that we announce that Chloe McCardel has stopped swimming during lap three due to severe breathing difficulties as a result of salt inhalation*,” the post said.
A later post said she was “recovering well and resting”.
The English Channel is the body of water between southern England and northern France. It links the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
The first person to swim across the Channel unassisted was Captain Matthew Webb in August 1875. It took him 21 hours 45 minutes.
Swimmers attempt the crossing at the Strait of Dover, the narrowest part.
Icy cold water, waves, boats and the distance between shores make the swim particularly challenging.
Ms McCardel’s food breaks lasted no longer than 20 seconds, with sports gels and crumpets lowered via bucket into the water by her support team, travelling in a boat beside her.
Before the attempt Ms McCardel said she was doing it to test her body.
“It’s like an experiment,” she said.
“I want to see how far I can push my body and how much my mind can handle.”
The multi-world record holder said she was “addicted” to the challenge, having completed the crossing 21 times previously — the most by any Australian.
In 2015, Ms McCardel became only the fourth person in the world to complete a non-stop, triple crossing and said the decision to attempt the quadruple came soon after emerging from the water.
“I didn’t make the decision lightly. Each time you add a lap on it gets experientially* harder,” she said.
The endurance athlete completed eight single channel crossings last year to prepare herself, both mentally and physically, for the attempt.
Ms McCardel tracked her journey on an interactive map so her supporters could follow along: https://track.rs/chloe/.
inhalation: breathing in
experientially: relating to the experience
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Activity 1. Journal entry
Write a journal entry from the point of view of Chloe McCardel.
You can imagine that you are writing either before or after the quadruple crossing attempt.
If your journal entry is from before the attempt you might talk about how you are feeling in the lead up, how you have prepared and what you are hoping for.
If you are writing after the attempt you might talk about how you feel, what didn’t go right and whether you might try again.
Chloe McCardel set a huge goal in attempting to cross the English Channel four times non-stop. She didn’t make it this time, but perhaps she will in the future.
Have a think about the things you enjoy doing and come up with a huge goal of your own that you would like to achieve one day.
Write down your goal along with three things that you think will be challenging and three things you can do to set yourself on track to achieve it.
Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English
Activity 2. Swimming sums
Solve the following maths problems. All of the data you need can be found in the article.
• Approximately how many kilometres is one crossing of the English Channel?
• How much further did Chloe have left to finish her quadruple crossing attempt?
• Approximately how far did Chloe swim last year with all eight of her English Channel crossings combined?
• If Matthew Webb had crossed the Channel four times, swimming at the same pace the whole time, how many days, hours and minutes would he have taken?
To get a better sense of just how far Chloe was attempting to swim, use an online or physical map to locate somewhere that is approximately 136km from where you live.
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Mathematics
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