Come the summer solstice channel swimmers and their crew start arriving in Dover. Some come to break records, others like me come to cross.
Since Capt Matthew Webb’s first solo crossing on 25 August 1875 (breaststroke 21 hours 45 mins) there have been 1426 swimmers that have made successful solo crossings, 108 of them Australians.
Each year about 110-120 swimmers make solos attempts and 20-30 make it into the history books. Tradition dictates they sign the wall at The White Horse Inn. The others are left to decide if they sign up for another year of training to make another attempt. Many do but the numbers are not pretty.
I was the first soloist to arrive in Dover this year and that yet might be my only title, but in doing so I got to meet Marcy MacDonald (pictured above). She’s here to complete her 15 th crossing and take the record for the most crossings by an American. She hopes to do it on Monday, the 20 th anniversary of her first solo crossing. Everything about her exuded a calm steely determination and I hung around like a teenage groupie trying to take some in by osmosis. The American Queen and the Australian virgin shared a moment.
In every sport there are superstars and hacks, there’s just not many of either in ours.