Aust marathon swimmer eyes world record

Chloe McCardel ploughs through the English Channel on her record-equalling marathon swim.
Chloe McCardel ploughs through the English Channel on her record-equalling marathon swim.

Australian marathon swimmer Chloe McCardel has put herself on the blocks to smash one of the sport's great endurance records after completing a world-record equalling 43rd crossing of the English Channel.

The 36-year-old on Thursday completed the gruelling 34km swim from Dover in England to the French port of Calais in 10 hours, 54 minutes, to match the overall mark set in 2004 by Britain's Alison Streeter.

She will return to the water in the next few days in an attempt to break the world record and be crowned queen of the English Channel.

She surpassed the men's world record of 34 in August 2020.

Depending on conditions, crossing number 44 could come as soon as Monday.

"That was a tough swim, the tide was very strong, running at 11km per hour," Ms McCardel said after returning to Dover by boat following her marathon effort.

"It took an hour longer than it would on any other day.

"It has been a rough two months leading up to this swim, with some of the windiest conditions ever seen, so finally finishing feels great."

The English Channel is 'only' 33.8km across at its narrowest point, but a number of variables - from changing tides effectively adding extra distance to strong waves and a busy stream of cargo ships and ferries - make it a challenging crossing.

Chilly conditions add the threat of hypothermia, which hospitalised Ms McCardel in 2011.

In 2015 she became only the fourth person - and first Australian - to complete a non-stop triple crossing of the English Channel, spending almost 37 hours in the water.

Ms McCardel said she was "elated and honoured" to join swimming great Streeter in crossing the English Channel 43 times, adding: "My journey is not over just yet".

"I will jump back in the water in the coming days to break the world record and make Australia proud," she said.

"I can't wait to celebrate with my supporters and bring the crown home."

Australian Associated Press