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Chloe McCardel: Swimmer seeks to beat men’s Channel record and quarantine

Chloe McCardel

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Chloe McCardel has swum the Channel 34 times – her next crossing would break the men’s record

A cross-Channel swimmer is facing a new challenge in her latest record-breaking feat – quarantine restrictions between France and the UK.

Australian Chloe McCardel’s planned 10-hour swim starting on Saturday night will be her 35th Channel crossing, breaking the men’s record.

But she hopes her short stay on French soil will not require self-isolation.

“Literally, I reach the shore and stand up on land for a couple of minutes,” she said.

The 35-year-old is due to start from Dover at 20: 00 BST on Saturday, with the 21-mile crossing to Calais expected to take her until Sunday morning.

She said that when she arrives, she will spend only a few moments on the French shore before swimming back out to her support boat for the return journey.

“We don’t go anywhere near the border officials or passport control, so I’m hoping technically the quarantine thing won’t apply,” she said.

“I’ve got a little celebration planned in England with the support crew, the team, the volunteers who have been so supportive throughout this. So I am hoping the government allow us to do that without having to quarantine.”

The Department of Transport said Ms McCardel should seek legal advice. She says she has been advised by the Channel Swimming Association that her swim can go ahead.

“They said channel swims are allowed as long as you observe social distancing when you land and don’t stay on the shore for more than 10 minutes, which is standard practice for us,” Ms McCardel told the BBC shortly before embarking on the swim.

She said there was little risk of coming into contact with someone in France because her swims usually end in an area of boulders near Cap Gris-Nez.

“I usually finish where there are large boulders and it’s inaccessible to people on land because you can’t walk through the boulders. There’s no sand,” she said.

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Ms McCardel holds multiple world records for endurance swimming

Ms McCardel already negotiated special dispensation from the Australian government to travel to the UK for her record attempt.

In recent weeks she has completed three Channel crossings, taking her level with British swimmer Kevin Murphy, the current men’s record holder on 34 crossings.

She told the Daily Telegraph that she hopes that her latest feat can help to raise awareness about domestic violence, revealing that she is a survivor who has been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“What I’m doing might seem like a superhuman feat, but I’m just a normal, everyday person who’s had huge challenges,” she told the paper.

Equalling the women’s record will be a greater task, however – Alison Streeter, the “Queen of the English Channel”, has swum the distance 43 times.

Ms McCardel holds multiple records for endurance swimming, including the longest ratified unassisted ocean swim in 2014, when she covered 77.3 miles (124.4km) in 41.5 hours in the waters around the Bahamas.

In 2017, she became the first person to attempt a quadruple non-stop crossing of the English Channel, but she was not successful in completing the 84-mile journey.

The feat was finally achieved by Sarah Thomas, from the United States, last year – one year after she was treated for breast cancer.

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