American woman first to swim English Channel non-stop four times

Record breaker Sarah Thomas survived cancer and completed 209 kilometres over two days

Record breaker Sarah Thomas after her swim. Credit: Lewis Pugh/Twitter
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An American woman has become the first person to swim the English Channel four times non-stop.

Sarah Thomas, 37, survived breast cancer a year ago and said the most gruelling challenge was swimming in salt water for two days, which left her throat and mouth sore.

It took her more than 54 hours after starting on Sunday morning.

Unpredictable tides meant she swam 209 kilometres, 80km more than the expected 129km.

“Every length had something that was really hard about it. Coming back from France the last time was definitely hard. It took forever and the current pushed me all over,” said Ms Thomas.

“I got stung in the face by a jellyfish and it wasn't as cold as I thought it might be but it was still chilly.”

Crew members on a nearby boat following her progress kept her “strong”.

“I almost didn't go back when I got back to England,” she said.

“I thought I should just finish and quit, but my team said, 'Guess what? You can do better. You can keep going'.”

Ms Thomas previously swam the Channel, the body of water between Britain and France, in 2012 and 2016.