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CENTURY SWIMMER

At 8.30am on 8 August 2017, Sarah Thomas began a 104.6-mile swim in Lake Champlain, New York. 67 hours and 16 minutes later she set a new record for the world’s longest current neutral swim. By Jonathan Cowie

CENTURY SWIM

PUSHING TO KEEP MY FOCUS WAS A HUGE CHALLENGE

It is 2am on an August morning and I open up a webpage on my phone. The small dot blinks its way slowly across the screen. It’s hypnotic, the track almost imperceptibly stretching its way across the map. I fall back asleep. When I wake I refresh the screen; the small dot is still moving. I shower, get dressed, go to work, come home, go swimming, go to bed, wake up, go for a run, go to work, watch a film, go to bed. Throughout, the dot continues its inexorable progress.

She’s still swimming. There’s something comforting about the blink-blink of the tracker. The anxiety of opening the webpage, like checking to see if a date has messaged you, is immediately assuaged by its progress. Everything is alright with the world. And thousands of miles away, Sarah Thomas toils through the night.

How do you even consider swimming 100 miles as a possibility? Last year, Sarah Thomas swam into the record books with an 80-mile swim in Lake Powell from Utah to Arizona, an awesome feat that stretched the boundaries of what is possible in marathon swimming. At the end of that swim the 35-year-old health recruiter still felt strong. She recovered quickly, feeling back to normal within a couple of days. Driving back from Lake Powell, Sarah’s husband turned to her and asked: “So, what do you think about 100 miles?”

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About Outdoor Swimmer

To paraphrase Ethel Merman, everything in the world of outdoor swimming is coming up roses. There may be thorns (such as FINA’s wrongheaded wetsuit rules), but we are undergoing a period of exciting growth with more and more people swimming outdoors and distance records being smashed around the world. One of the trailblazers in the world of marathon swimming is Sarah Thomas. In ‘Century Swim’ we meet her to talk about her mind-blowing 104-mile world record swim. For many outdoor swimmers, autumn is time to hang up wetsuits and swimming costumes until spring next year. With that in mind this issue is a pool training special, including a beginners’ guide to swim training aids. But your swimming season needn’t end now – in ‘Extend your Season’ I look at how and why you should swim outdoors all year round. If you’re anything like me, a lot of your time is spent procrastinating about getting into cold water. Our competition this month is to win the ‘Outdoor Swimmer’s Guide to Faffing’ calendar (and a snowflake swimming hat) by artist and outdoor swimmer Nancy Farmer. Check out the competition on page 23. Enjoy the magazine and happy swimming. Jonathan Cowie Editor
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