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UPDATE: Lynchburg woman ends attempt to swim English Channel

Published On: Jul 30 2013 06:57:53 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 01 2013 09:30:00 AM EDT

We first told you about Sarah Dunstan earlier this week. Her family tells WDBJ7, Sarah swam for about nine hours and 13 miles before stopping this morning.


A Lynchburg woman who was attempting to swim across the English Channel ended her try Thursday morning.

Sarah Dunstan, 59, swam for about nine hours and 13 miles before stopping the swim. She’s headed back to England where she’ll be greeted by her family.

“Her attempt has taught so many about dedication, hard work and going after a goal with fierce passion. She's proven you can achieve a dream no matter what age,” her daughter, Emily Blair Dunstan, wrote in a message.

Dunstan’s family says she is feeling well, but is extremely tired.


Original story from Tuesday, July 30

A Lynchburg woman is attempting to do what most others would never try.

This week she'll try to swim across the English Channel- the busiest shipping lane in the world.

WDBJ7 connected with Sarah Dunstan using FaceTime from her hotel near Dover, England.  The first thing we wanted to know is why she wants to swim the channel.

"It's just a legendary swim and swimming is what I love more than anything," Dunstan said.

She must love swimming.

Swimming the channel will take an estimated 16 to 18 hours in cold water wearing only a bathing suit, a swim cap and goggles with a pilot boat nearby.

It was earlier this month that a 34-year-old British woman died while trying to attempt to swim the channel.   That has not deterred Dunstan.

Dunstan knew Susan Taylor.  Taylor was just one mile from the finish when she collapsed and was pulled from the water.

"We were all shattered by that and yes it did cause me to pause and wonder if this was really a good idea or not," said Dunstan.

The 59-year-old says the support of family is making it worthwhile.

The channel is 21 miles wide at the narrowest point between England and France but with currents swimmers normally track an S curve that can double the mileage.

Dunstan's been training  in waterways around Virginia.  "My main training ground has been the James River in Richmond and Lynchburg and at Ivy lake in Forest Virgina," said Dunstan. "I've been swimming year round."  She has also trained in Spain where she completed a six hour swim in cold water in April. That step is part of the qualifying process in order to attempt an English Channel swim.

Dunstan will have to overcome the choppy water, the currents, and of course the 60 degree water temperature.

"Cold water has not been a problem but I don't the limits of how long I'll be able to swim that's something I'll just have to find out when I get out there," Dunstan said.

Dunstan's husband is with her in England while her adult children will keep track of her swim from here in the United States.

WDBJ will be tracking her swim. You'll can access GPS tracking of her swim here.