Page 3 Profile: Beth French, swimmer


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The Independent Online

Come on in: the water’s lovely!

A British woman has become the first person to swim from Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly. Beth French, a former wheelchair user who was diagnosed with ME as a teenager, swam the 26-mile crossing in 17 hours 28 minutes.

I think I’d prefer to take the ferry

Ms French, 36, set off from near Penzance on Tuesday afternoon and reached St Mary’s, in the Isles of Scilly, early yesterday morning.  A small number of swimmers have previously made the crossing starting from the Scilly side, but Ms French is the first person to do it in the opposite direction.

How did she prepare for it?

The 36-year-old massage therapist from Milverton, Somerset, trained by pulling her five-year-old son behind her in a dinghy. 

She’s come a long way from her teenage years…

Ms French caught glandular fever at the age of 10 and was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at 17. She vowed to swim the English Channel if she ever recovered.

And did she achieve her goal?

Yes, in July 2012 she crossed the English Channel and later that year she became the first British woman to swim the Molokai Channel in Hawaii. During her latest challenge, Ms French encountered seals and dolphins: “I could hear them clicking. It was a great comfort to me – it really buoyed me up,” she said. However, she revealed: “There were an awful lot of jellyfish.”

Ouch! Talk about commitment.

“I was determined to finish, there was no question of not achieving it,” Ms French said yesterday of her accomplishment, which she undertook in a bid to raise money for the charity Level Water, which helps disabled children to access swimming. Ms French is planning a swim from Gibraltar to Morocco.