Crossing the English Channel, between France and England, has become one of the greatest challenges for open water swimmers. It’s a feat that eight Mexican women have accomplished. We’ll tell you who they are.
Not even the cold temperature of the water in the English Channel–between 54 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit– has discouraged the brave individuals that have attempted to cross it over the centuries. The deed gets more complicated when the swimmer wants to have Channel Swimming Association recognition. The organization has rules, like not wearing a bathing suit with thermal protection, being at least16 years old and only eating during the crossing from containers that are thrown into the water.
Nevertheless, eight Mexican women have successfully faced the challenge, swimming individually, clearly an achievement that stretched them to the limit.
The channel separates France from the island of Great Britain, and athletes cross 20 miles in one of the most heavily traveled bodies of water in the world. Since 1875, when Captain Mattew Webb crossed it for the first time, less than ten percent of the attempts have ended in victory.
The first Mexican to cross the channel individually was a man, Damian Piza, back in 1953.
1. It wasn’t until 1992 that Elizabeth Hernández became the first Mexican woman to do it, with a time of 10.40 hours.
2. The second woman to accomplish it was Nora Toledano, that same year. She went on, in 1994, to do a double crossing, in 23.38 hours. Nora has made the crossing 11 times.
3. In 2004, at age 32, Patricia Guerra did it in approximately 13 hours.
4. In August that same year, Minerva Martínez did an individual crossing, clocking in at nearly 15 hours; she was 30 at the time.
Crossing time ranges between seven and 16.5 hours, depending on the skill of the swimmer and weather conditions.
5. At the age of 35, Raquel Márquez was added to the list, in 2007. She completed the individual crossing in 16 hours and was the first Latin American woman to do it using the backstroke.
6. In 2011, Mariel Hawley, at age 42, swam the 20 miles in 14 hours 33 minutes.
7 and 8. Finally, this year the list grew, with the addition of Arleen González and Fernanda López Garza. In August and September, respectively, they made the crossing, the latter at a mere 16 years of age.
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