7ft tiger sharks, 10mph ocean currents, blistering sun, frigid waters, world firsts.... Somerset swimmer/adventurer Beth French is facing it all. Half way through her record setting project to swim all Oceans 7 channels in a single year, she has reached the tipping point. Once she completes the straits of Gibraltar in May, she will be in new territory with every further swim a new record.
Oceans 7 is the swimming equivalent of mountaineering seven summits- seven of the toughest swim on the planet, designed to test every aspect of a swimmer. And only 6 people have completed the list in their lifetime. Beth French is set to do them all in a single year.
She has already overcome incredible odds, from swimming her first 21mile channel in October with a tummy bug to facing up to a 7ft tiger shark in the middle of the night during the 28 mile Molokai channel, Kaiwi, known locally in Hawaii as the channel of bones. In completing this gruelling channel, she became the first woman in history to manage to swim it twice.
Her most recent swim, 16 miles across the turbulent Cook strait from the south to north island of New Zealand, saw her face her first ever DNF when she was perilously close to finishing, with the landing beach in sight, only to be swept back out to sea by impossibly strong currents.
The first attempt was in barely 15'c water, with hypothermia a real risk. A mere 10 days later, she took the plunge and put her body to the utmost test- had she recovered enough to make it this time? Remarkably, she made the swim in a smooth 9hrs 11mins, despite the fatigue and mental strain of very little rest.
This is all so remarkable - but given that Beth was in a wheel chair as a teen with no guarantee of recovery from the debilitating syndrome, ME, it is a truly astonishing accomplishment. She has found a way to live symptom free and relishes the challenge of what would appear to many impossible - to master the 7 toughest swims on the planet in a single year.
We've been supporting and following Beth for over a year now - since welcoming her into the London store to tell us of her story - and we're excited to hear from her once again at our Bristol outfit next Tuesday.
Head to our Eventbrite to book your place. As always, the beers are on us.