A British woman who was trying to swim the English Channel to raise money for charity died Sunday after collapsing on the French coast. Susan Taylor was swimming to raise money for a hospice and diabetes charity. Though Taylor was airlifted to a French hospital, doctors were unable to revive her.
Taylor had trained for the swim for over a year and had smeared herself with goose fat ahead of the swim to protect against the water, which reached an abnormally high temperature of 15 degrees Centigrade.
While French officials do not allow swimmers to depart from their side of the Channel because of currents, changing weather conditions, and shipping traffic, British officials authorized a number of charity swimmers to cross the Channel Sunday.
"We require medicals signed by a doctor and we both require swims of at least six hours before we will register anyone to swim the Channel," Kevin Murphy, the secretary of the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, which authorizes attempts to cross the Channel, told The Daily Mail. "It's an extreme sport. We know it's an extreme sport but its safety record is second to none."
Until Taylor's passing, only seven people have died since the first unassisted swim in 1875. The last swimmer to perish was Paraic Casey, a 45-year-old member of the Sandycove Swimming Club in Cork, Ireland, on July 21 2012. Casey became ill a mile from the French coast and attempts to resuscitate him failed.
For more on what it takes to swim accross the Channel, read Dangerous When Wet: Learning to Survive Open Water Swimming.