Channel crossing was “best feeling in the world” for Ely woman

PUBLISHED: 12:09 16 August 2013 | UPDATED: 12:09 16 August 2013

Sarah Tunnicliffe successfully swam the English Channel

Sarah Tunnicliffe successfully swam the English Channel


INTREPID Ely woman Sarah Tunnicliffe dodged tankers, fought off shoulder pain and even avoided an over-enthusiastic French fisherman as she successfully swam the English Channel.

Sarah, 38, completed the remarkable feat on August 1 in just 16 hours 35minutes, well inside her target of 18 hours and raising more than £6,000 for cancer charities in the process.

Sarah, who works for English Heritage, said: “My goal was always just to reach France but when I finally got back on the boat after completing the swim I was like ‘no way!’.

“It was a fabulous feeling to have managed it, I was totally overjoyed when I realised. I have a million memories to take away with me, it really was incredible.”

Sarah set out from Shakespeare Beach in Dover at 3.30am in perfectly still conditions, making the early stages of her swim “relatively comfortable.”

She was kept energised and motivated as she swam out into the shipping lanes by her support team Tonia Schofield, Clare Woodhead, Graham Hiom and Carl Reynolds, who sailed along in a boat beside her while supplying her with liquid carbohydrates and the occasional Jaffa cake.

Though she had to be supplied with painkillers to help with the increasing pain in her shoulders, Sarah said the sight of the French coastline kept her motivated throughout.

“The best advice I was given was ‘don’t look up or behind you because nothing seems to get closer’ but when I saw the cliffs at Cap Blanc Nez, I was thrilled. It was the best feeling in the world.”

Within a few hundreds yards of the French coast, a French fisherman waded out to greet her and, if he had managed to touch her, it would have disqualified her crossing.

But, some skilful manoeuvring and a few words from her support crew saw the fisherman dissuaded and the epic swim completed.

To help Sarah raise as much money as possible, visit or

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