Sarah Thomas (marathon swimmer)

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Sarah Thomas (born 1982)[1] is an American marathon swimmer.

On August 10, 2017 she swam 104.6 miles (168.3 km) in Lake Champlain, the first current-neutral open water swim of over 100 miles, and as of 2019 the world record for longest unassisted open-water swim. Her route was a loop starting and finishing at Rouses Point, New York at the north of the lake and swimming south to and around Gardiner Island, Addison County, Vermont.[2]

In November 2017 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and underwent surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, swimming as much as possible during her treatment.[3]

On September 17, 2019 she became the first swimmer to swim four consecutive crossings of the English Channel, in a time of 54 hours 10 minutes.[4][5] A documentary film about this swim, The Other Side, is being made, funded through Kickstarter.[6][7]

Personal life and early swimming[edit]

Thomas was swimming in a year-round swimming team by the age of ten. She swam in high school at the 200m and 500m freestyle, and in the mile in her senior year. She continued swimming while studying for a degree in political science and journalism at the University of Connecticut, but gave it up while gaining her Masters in legal administration at the University of Denver. She took up swimming again and joined a masters swim team after graduating.[8]

In August 2007 Thomas made her first long swim, the annual 10 km Horsetooth Open Water Swim at Horsetooth Reservoir, near Fort Collins, Colorado, over 5,400 feet (1,600 m) above sea level. She was the second woman completer, and the fifth overall, in 2 hrs 39 mins 8 sec. She has said "I got out of the water, and I was fighting back tears because I loved it so much."[8]

She works as a recruiter for a health care company, and lives in Conifer, Colorado with her husband.[8]

Notable accomplishments[edit]

  • Thomas accomplished unprecedented two-way crossings of Lake Tahoe in California in 2013 and across Lake Memphremagog in Vermont when she completed a two-way crossing without a wetsuit in each lake.[1]
  • Thomas is the 58th person to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming:[9]
    • She completed a crossing of the Catalina Channel from Santa Catalina Island to the Southern California mainland on 27 July 2010 in 9 hours 6 minutes 28 minutes at the age of 28.
    • She completed the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim on 18 June 2011 in 7 hours 36 minutes 20 seconds at the age of 29.
    • She completed a crossing of the English Channel from England to France in 11 hours 23 minutes on 13 August 2012 at the age of 30.
  • On 19 July 2013, she became the first person to complete a 68.4 km two-way crossing of Lake Tahoe from Incline Village to Camp Richardson to Incline Village in 22 hours 30 minutes (11 hours 38 minutes on her first lap and 10 hrs 47 minutes on her second lap) at the age of 31.[1]
  • On 7 September 2013, she became the first person to complete a two-way crossing of Lake Memphremagog (in the 80.4 km In Search of Memphre from Magog, Quebec, Canada to Newport, Vermont and back to Magog in 30 hours 1 minute (15 hours 9 minutes on first leg + 10 hours 47 minutes on second leg with a 6-minute rest time on shore between the two legs) at the age of 31.[1]
  • On 4–6 October 2016, she completed an 80-mile (128.7 km) crossing of Lake Powell along the Utah-Arizona border from Bullfrog to Wahweap in 56 hours 5 minutes 26 seconds at the age of 34.[10]
  • On 22 August 2015, she completed a 36.2 km crossing of Loch Ness in Scotland in 10 hours 52 minutes at the age of 33.[1]
  • On 21 November 2015, she completed an Ice Mile in Wellington Lake, Bailey, Colorado, U.S.A. by swimming 1.1 miles in 4.57 °C water at 8,000 feet altitude in 27:07 observed by Craig Lenning and Cliff Crozier.[11]
  • On 3 July 2015, she completed a 44.3 km crossing of Flathead Lake in Montana in 13 hours 39 minutes at the age of 33.[12]
  • On 20 June 2015, she won the 58 km END-WET down the Red River of the North in North Dakota in 9 hours 43 minutes at the age of 33.[1]
  • On 2 June 2017, she completed a 40 km double circumnavigation of Mercer Island, Washington in 12 hours 22 minutes 20 seconds at the age of 35.[1]
  • On 7–9 August 2017, Thomas completed a 104.6 mile (168.3 km) solo open water swim in Lake Champlain in 67 hours 16 minutes 12 seconds.[2]
  • In March 2019, she completed a crossing of the Cook Strait between the North Island and South Island of New Zealand.[1]
  • She is the protagonist of the documentary film The Other Side.[7]
  • On September 17, 2019 she became the first swimmer to make a quadruple back to back crossing of the English Channel, in a time of 54 hours 10 minutes.[4]

Honors and awards[edit]

  • Thomas received the 2013 Barra Award, an award given by the Marathon Swimmers Forum for most impressive overall year of marathon swimming. The Barra Award considers not just swimming achievements, but also the person's full body of work in the sport of marathon swimming. It is named after New York channel swimmer David Barra.[13]
  • Thomas was nominated for the 2016 WOWSA Awards, a recognition of outstanding men, women, performances and offerings around the globe sponsored by the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA). Her solo swim across Lake Powell was voted the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.[14]
  • Thomas won the 2017 Solo Swim of the Year by the Marathon Swimmers Federation.[13]
  • She was named one of the World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women in 2017, 2018, and 2019 by the World Open Water Swimming Association.[14]
  • Thomas was selected as the Colorado Sportswomen of the Year.[14]
  • Inducted as an Honor Swimmer in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, Class of 2018.[15]
  • Inducted in the Vermont Open Water Swimming Hall of Fame, Class of 2017.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Sarah Thomas (LongSwims Database)". Marathon Swimmers Federation. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Sarah Thomas - Lake Champlain". Marathon Swimmers Federation. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  3. ^ Howley, Elaine K. (September 4, 2019). "Sarah Thomas to attempt quadruple English Channel swim". Outdoor Swimmer. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Sarah Thomas: Woman first to swim Channel four times non-stop". BBC News. 17 September 2019.
  5. ^ Allan, Tom (September 6, 2019). "Ultra-swimmer Sarah Thomas aims to be first to cross Channel four times". Financial Times. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  6. ^ Munatones, Steven. "Freestyling For Four, The Heroic Comeback Of Sarah Thomas". Open Water Swimming Associations. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  7. ^ a b "The Other Side". Kickstarter, PBC. February 23, 2017. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Williams, Doug (February 23, 2017). "Sarah Thomas is pushing the limits of open-water swimming". ESPN. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming". Marathon Swimmers Federation. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  10. ^ "Sarah Thomas - Lake Powell". Marathon Swimmers Federation. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  11. ^ "International Ice Swimming Association". Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  12. ^ "Sarah Thomas - Flathead Lake". Marathon Swimmers Federation. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  13. ^ a b "Global Marathon Swimming Awards". Marathon Swimmers Federation. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d "Sarah Thomas". Open Water Swimming, LLC. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  15. ^ "International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame". Retrieved October 26, 2019.