A marathon swimmer is set to undertake a world record 44th crossing of the English Channel.
Chloe McCardel, 36, was born and raised in Australia and still lives there, but spends “two to three months of virtually every year” in the UK preparing for and taking part in her channel crossings.
Having first swum the famously treacherous 34km (21 miles) stretch of water in 2009, she has now completed it 41 times and is currently in New Romney, Kent preparing for the three crossings which will take her past the current record of 43, which is held by Briton Alison Streeter.
“The English Channel feels like my spiritual home so I have a draw to come back here every year,” she told the PA news agency.
A competitive junior swimmer in the pool as a teenager, Ms McCardel came to open water competitions after making a vow to herself to become “the best in the world at something”.
She tried triathlon and running marathons before eventually turning to open water swimming, and immediately “fell in love” with the sport.
“Being out in the natural environment and pushing my own limits, and not being confined to the pool or surrounded by chlorine, I just found it so liberating and such an incredible experience,” she said.
“So I knew that if I wanted to be the best in the world I had to go where all the best marathon swimmers went historically and that’s to the English Channel.”
Ms McCardel, who also holds the world record for the longest unassisted open water swim at 124km, will attempt her three swims over the course of the next few weeks and hopes to have broken the record by mid-October.
The swims require favourable weather and conditions so it is not possible to know exactly when she will take Ms Streeter’s record.
When she does, it will finally fulfil a longheld ambition to emulate a woman she has revered for years.
“She’s an idol of mine,” Ms McCardel said.
“Over a decade ago as a bright eyed, bushy tailed Aussie coming all the way from the other side of the world, I would read books about her exploits, I would hear people talk about the amazing Alison Streeter, so to be able to swim in her wake, so to speak, is an absolute privilege and an honour.
“I’m just so excited to be able to become one of the figures of the history of English Channel swimming and to step up that mantle and also to have the opportunity to inspire people coming through behind me as well.”
But it seems there is little prospect of her stretching the record any further.
“I’m absolutely planning on stopping at 44, I will be announcing my retirement,” she said.
“I have been living a very disjointed life the last decade, I’m an amateur athlete, I make no money from this, so I think it’s time for me to look at new horizons.”