For more than two days, Sarah Thomas was Dory from Finding Nemo personified: She just kept swimming.
Early Tuesday morning, Thomas, a 2004 graduate of UConn, concluded more than 54 hours straight of swimming and completed a four-way swim of the English Channel, becoming the first person ever to accomplish such a feat.
Throughout the swim, Thomas dealt with multiple jellyfish stings, cold water temperatures, and irritating saltwater in nothing but a swimsuit, cap and goggles.
Unsurprisingly, Thomas was a distance swimmer at UConn, and has continued to push the boundaries of open-water endurance swimming since graduating. Described as a “freak of nature” by her own mother. Thomas had already swam across the Channel once in 2012 and in 2016, and swam nearly 105 miles in Lake Champlain in 2017. Shortly after that event, Thomas was diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite dealing with chemotherapy, radiation treatment and a mastectomy, she continued to train for her four-way Channel swim and completed cancer treatment in 2018.
While the swim was expected to be 80 miles, Thomas’ path ballooned up to 130 miles due to rapidly changing currents on the Channel. Despite the dramatic increase, Thomas completed the swim that was dedicated to other cancer survivors and cemented herself as one of the world’s best endurance athletes.