World long distance swimming record for cancer survivor Sarah Thomas

Last week, cancer survivor Sarah Thomas set a new record by swimming the English Channel four times non-stop. All in all, she swam nearly 215 km in 54 hours.

On the 15th of September, long-distance swimmer Sarah Thomas began the most extraordinary adventure of her life. In 54 hours, the American swam the Channel that separates France and Great-Britain — four times.

She came up with the idea for such a swim two years ago, when she was active as an open water marathon swimmer. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly afterward.

Luckily, she recovered from the cancer. In fact, due to her hard work and deep belief, she was able to begin the swim just one year following her last treatment. In a recent Facebook post, she wrote about having waited so long for this swim, and about how she had fought to be ready.

Having suffered from cancer herself, Thomas dedicated her swim to all cancer survivors and fighters. “This is for those of us who have prayed for our lives, who have wondered with despair about what comes next, and have battled through pain and fear to overcome,” she said.

Fifty-four hours after her departure, Thomas reached the mainland. She successfully swam the Channel four times, covering nearly 215 km. In an interview with the BBC, Thomas said: “I just can’t believe we did it. I’m really just pretty numb.”

The journey of the open water swimmer has been inspirational, having an impact on so many. It can be compared with the emotional effect of Maarten van der Weijden’s swim in June 2019. Like Thompson, van der Weijden also suffered from cancer, which motivated him to swim the Dutch Elfstedenzwemtocht.

The achievements of both Thomas and van der Weijden have raised attention and awareness for cancer research. Thomas did so by dedicating her achievement to cancer victims, whereas van der Weijden linked his swim directly to the KWF (Dutch cancer fund). Together, they demonstrated what human beings are capable of after surviving cancer.

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