Denver Pioneer Sarah Thomas becomes first to swim four English Channel laps

DU Alumnus Sarah Thomas during her record English Channel Swim/Photos: London Independent

DU Pioneer alumni women simply dominate the world in long-distance feats of human sporting endurance, with performances that leave the most capable far behind.

In addition to producing the world’s most accomplished ultra long-distance runner in Courtney Dauwalter, DU has now produced the first person to swim the English Channel in four non-stop laps. The previous record was three laps.

Sarah Thomas, a 37-year-old DU Pioneer Alumnus who had finished treatment for aggressive breast cancer in 2018, just swam from England to France and back twice in a bit over 54 hours, finishing on September 17. British author and broadcaster Charlie Connelly has described her achievement as “one of the greatest feats of mental and physical endurance in human history.” Thomas dedicated her latest record to “all the cancer survivors out there.”

Thomas, who lives in Conifer, Colorado, earned her Master’s Degree in Legal Administration at DU.

According to the BBC, Thomas’ swim should have been a total distance of about 80 miles but the tides in the Channel increased the distance by more than 60%, meaning she ended up swimming nearly 130 miles.

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Map of Thomas’ Record Swim Courtesy of CNN

Thomas has had a number of long-distance swimming achievements in recent years, including the 2017 swim of 104.6 miles in Lake Champlain in Vermont, gaining world records for the first current-neutral swim of over 100 miles, and the longest unassisted open-water swim.

Thomas’ feat joins fellow Pioneer Courtney Dauwaulter (a former DU cross-country skier) who finished the 2017 Moab 240 ultra long-distance running race in 2 days, 9 hours, and 59 minutes, faster than any of the men in the pack and beating the second-place finisher by more than 10 hours.

Once again, DU shows the world what great Pioneers can do!

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