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Sarah Thomas

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Sarah Thomas, inductee (Honor Swimmer) of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, Class of 2018 and recipient of the 2021 Poseidon Award from the International Swimming Hall of Fame
Sarah Thomas swimming an unprecedented four-way crossing course of the English Channel that took her 56 hours 13 minutes. Photo by Jon Washer
Sarah Thomas' four-way crossing course of the English Channel that took 56 hours 13 minutes
Sarah Thomas is the protagonist of the documentary film The Other Side
Sarah Thomas was nominated for the 2019 WOWSA Awards in the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year category
Sarah Thomas is a member of the Vermont Open Water Swimming Hall of Fame
Sarah Thomas is a nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, part of the WOWSA Awards, an annual recognition of outstanding men, women, performances and offerings around the globe sponsored by the World Open Water Swimming Association
Sarah 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. Her solo 80-mile (128.7 km)) swim in Lake Powell was voted the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
Sarah Thomas was nominated for the 2013 WOWSA Awards in the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year in the category
Sarah Thomas swimming in Lake Powell on an unprecedented 80.0-mile (128.7 km) crossing of Lake Powell along the Arizona-Utah border in the USA on 4-6 October 2016 in 56 hours 5 minutes. Photo courtesy of crew member and observer Andrew Malinak
Sarah Thomas swimming in Lake Powell on an unprecedented 80.0-mile (128.7 km) crossing of Lake Powell along the Arizona-Utah border in the USA on 4-6 October 2016 in 56 hours 5 minutes. Photo courtesy of crew member and observer Andrew Malinak
Sarah Thomas in Lake Memphremagog
Sarah Thomas with husband Ryan Willis after her swim across Lake Memphremagog in Vermont
Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas is a 38-year-old American open water swimmer from Colorado who was inducted as an Honor Swimmer in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, Class of 2018 and in the Vermont Open Water Swimming Hall of Fame in the Class of 2017.

Four-way English Channel Crossing


Good Morning Britain interviewed überswimmer Sarah Thomas about her unprecedented four-way English Channel crossing with photographer/filmmaker Jon Washer, documentarist Elaine K. Howley, escort boat pilot Eddie Spelling and observer Kevin Murphy.

The Other Side



Thomas is the protagonist of the film The Other Side, a documentary covering her English Channel quad swim. On 17 September 2019, she completed an unprecedented 134 km four-way crossing of the English Channel in 54 hours 10 minutes 0 seconds at the age of 37 where she swam from England to France to England to France and back to England with escort pilot Eddie Spelling on Anastasia.

  • 1st crossing from England to France: 11 hours 26 minutes 50 seconds
  • 2nd crossing from France to England: 12 hours 41 minutes 14 seconds
  • 3rd crossing from England to France: 12 hours 58 minutes 16 seconds
  • 4th crossing from France to England: 17 hours 5 minutes 40 seconds

Open Water Swimming Career

MSF Core Group

She is a member of the MSF Core Group that oversees standards and policies for Marathon Swimmers Federation projects. She is joined by David Barra, Caroline Block PhD, Elaine Kornbau Howley, Andrew Malinak, Anthony McCarley, Evan Morrison, and Emma Radford.

Century Swim


Raw footage from Thomas' 104.6 mile (168.3 km) 67 hour 16 minute Century Swim in Lake Champlain, courtesy of the Marathon Swimmers Federation.

Lake Powell Swim


Courtesy of Jamie Patrick of Adventure Swimmer Productions in association with Sea Nymph Films showcases Thomas' unprecedented 81.8-mile (131.6 km) crossing of Lake Powell along the Arizona-Utah border in the western USA on 4-6 October 2016 in 56 hours 5 minutes. Still photos by Ken Classen.

2015 Year

  • Swam length of Loch Ness in Scotland. 22.2 miles (35.7 km) in 10 hours 52 minutes
  • First to swim length of Flathead Lake in Montana. 28 miles (45 km) in 13 hours, 45 minutes
  • 3 Rivers Marathon Swim in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 30 km (18.6 miles) in 7 hours 48 minutes
  • END-WET along the Red River in North Dakota. 36 miles (58 km) in 9 hours 43 minutes. First finisher
  • 24 Hour Relay, San Francisco
  • Ice mile

Honors

2020 WOWSA Awards

Thomas was nominated for the 2020 WOWSA Awards in the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year category as follows: After her historic 134 km four-way crossing of the English Channel in 54 hours 10 minutes in 2019, Sarah Thomas became globally well-known. Highly respected and admired within the marathon swimming community, she is always poised and introspective in her constant media interviews. The 38-year-old has an inherently calm and humble demeanor that plays extremely well in the public eye. The impressions that she leaves - not only including her channel swim that will be remembered for centuries - are especially inspirational and poignant for people of all ages and from all walks of life. For her marathon swims in the Anacapa Channel and for swimming the length of Lake Tahoe while sharing her story and her journey on podcasts, television shows, radio programs and media articles with an extraordinary depth of character and gratitude, for her engaging and friendly personality that is characterized with patience and a rare eloquence to explain channel swimming to the general public, and for her impeccable position as an icon of the sport who overcame breast cancer, Sarah Thomas is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

2019 WOWSA Awards

Thomas was nominated for the 2019 WOWSA Awards in the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year category as follows: It would be almost impossible, unthinkable for anyone to top what Sarah Thomas has already done in her solo marathon swimming career. But what Thomas had to overcome in order to become the first person in history to attempt - and complete - a four-way crossing of the English Channel will be remembered for, literally, centuries. Her training and crossings were that heroic. The 37-year-old's unprecedented 134 km swim took 54 hours 10 minutes under the escort of pilot Eddie Spelling and the support of a top-notch escort team: 1st crossing from England to France in 11 hours 26 minutes + 2nd crossing back to England in 12 hours 41 minutes + 3rd crossing back to France in 12 hours 58 minutes + 4th crossing returning to England in 17 hours 5 minutes. Her gutsy swim - impressive at every level for both swimmers and non-swimmers alike - was the very embodiment of an epic, legendary effort of historical proportions. For her continued push to set the bar at unheard of levels in marathon swimming, for her pleasant, humble personality that is characterized with patience, dedication and an eloquence to explain channel swimming to the general public, and for her mind-boggling tenacity to overcome breast cancer and bouts of chemotherapy to swim further than anyone else in English Channel history, Sarah Thomas is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

2017 WOWSA Awards

Thomas was nominated for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year by the World Open Water Swimming Association:

1. Katherine Batts (Great Britain)
2. Dr. Caroline Block (USA)
3. Arianna Bridi (Italy)
4. Chloë McCardel (Australia)
5. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil)
6. Pat Gallant-Charette (USA)
7. Ludmila Maller (Russia)
8. Jaimie Monahan (USA)
9. Aurélie Muller (France)
10. Barbara Pozzobón (Italy)
11. Sarah Thomas (USA)
12. Julia Wittig (Germany)

Sarah Thomas was all over the place in 2017. She warmed up with a 40 km double circumnavigation around Mercer Island in Washington, then won the women’s division at the 17 km Portland Bridge Swim in Oregon, completed an unprecedented 31.7 km crossing of Grand Lake in Oklahoma, and finished 6th overall at the 16 km Swim The Suck in Tennessee. But she did one more swim that was simply mind-boggling and typical of Thomas’ tenacity. In August, she swam further than anyone in human history without currents: 168.3 km (104.6 miles) in 67 hours 16 minutes in Lake Champlain, New York and Vermont. While fatigue was increasing as sleep became necessary after nearly 3 days of non-stop swimming, Thomas finished with a steady stride, wide smile, and fully conversant with her crew and media. Her swim was carefully documented and virtually observed by thousands, inspiring many and ensuring her effort set the standard for ratification. For her continued push to set the bar in marathon swimming, for her pleasant personality and friendly interactions with her escort crew throughout her swims, for her ability to swim further than anyone else on Planet Earth, Sarah Thomas is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

2016 WOWSA Awards

Thomas' Lake Powell Swim was nominated for and selected as the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year as follows: Sarah Thomas of the USA stretched her imagination and that of the entire global open water swimming community when the über swimmer from Colorado created a unique 81.8-mile (131.6 km) point-to-point ultra marathon swim. 56 hours 5 minutes after starting and zigzagging between the picturesque canyon walls of Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border in the western United States, Thomas walked up the boat ramp at Wahweap Marina at the finish like she just finished a one-mile warm-up. Smiling broadly and chatting easily with a caked mixture of Desitin and lanolin, the 34-year-old's massively long solo swim was punctuated by stiff 20 mph winds (32 kph) and miserable conditions. But she powered through the miserable conditions and two nights to set a standard that energized the global marathon swimming community. For her awe-inspiring effort, for her genuinely joyful swim of over 56 straight hours, for keeping the global open water swimming community riveted to her steady pace over two consecutive days and nights, Sarah Thomas' Lake Powell Swim is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

2013 WOWSA Awards

Thomas was nominated for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year. Her nomination reads: Back and forth, up and way, two-way, and double-crossing. If it involved doing anything in the water twice, Sarah Thomas is on her game. Her two swims in 2013, both the double-crossing of Lake Tahoe and the double-crossing of Lake Memphremagog, were unprecedented. Both unprecedented swims elevated her to the elusive 24-Hour Club status, finishing 42 miles in Lake Tahoe in 22 hours 35 minutes and 50 miles in Lake Memphremagog in 30 hours 1 minutes. Proving her mettle despite unkind conditions, she negative split both marathon swims. For her willingness to extend herself beyond what others do, for her courage to retrace her strokes in lakes throughout North America, for her two unprecedented two-way crossings, Sarah Thomas is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

2015 MSF Calendar

2017 Marathon Swimmers Federation calendar

Thomas was featured in the April photograph in the 2015 and 2017 MSF Calendars.

January: Anthony McCarley, English Channel. Photo by Roger Taylor.
February: Santa Barbara Channel. Photo by Theo Schmeeckle.
March: Ted Erikson at Promontory Point, Chicago. Photo by Louise LeBourgeois.
April: Sarah Thomas at The Arc, USA. Photo by Ken Classen.
May: Underway at Lake Willoughby, USA. Photo by Phil White.
June: Grace van der Byl at MIMS 2014, USA. Photo by John Humenik.
July: Navigation, Lake Pend Oreille, USA. Photo by Andrew Malinak.
August: Suva off Cap Gris Nez, English Channel. Photo by Zoe Sadler.
September: Applegate Lake 10K Start, USA. Photo by Peter Ray.
October: Bethany Bosch & Guri at Lake Willoughby. Photo by Phil White.
November: Round Christiansborg, Denmark. Photo by Samuel Tyson.
December: Nightswimming, Ireland. Photo by Donal Buckley.

2017 MSF Calendar

Cover – Sarah Thomas swimming in Lake Powell in Arizona. Photo by Ken Classen.
January – Howard James on the earliest English Channel crossing. Photo by Danny Burrows.
February – Theodore Yach swimming his 100th Robben Island crossing. Photo by Mariza Cloete.
March – Radikal MarBrava in Girona, Spain. Photo by Burno Hervas.
April – Swimmers in Lake Willoughby in Vermont. Photo by Manuela Jessel.
May – Howard James leaving Dover. Photo by Danny Burrows.
June – Scott Zornig swimming in San Diego Harbor. Photo by Lynn Kubasek.
July – Dave Van Mouwerik swimming with a whale in Avila Beach. Photo by Michael Dobrzensky.
August – Anthony McCarley swimming in the Harlem River. Photo by Niles Furlong.
September – Marie Watson swimming in Galway Bay in Ireland. Photo by Siobhan Russell.
October – Sarah Thomas at finish on Lake Powell shoreline in Arizona. Photo by Andrew Malinak.
November – Bernard Lynch swimming in the English Channel. Photo by Siobhan Russell.
December – Swimmers entered water on Autumn Equinox in Myrtleville, Ireland. Photo by Siobhan Russell.

World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women

Thomas was named to the list of 2015 World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women by the World Open Water Swimming Association.

2017 World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women

Thomas was named to the 2017 World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women by the World Open Water Swimming Association. The women are listed below, alphabetically by last name:

1. Patti Bauernfeind, marathon/channel/relay swimmer from the USA
2. Carina Bruwer, marathon/channel/charity event swimmer from South Africa
3. Charlotte Brynn, marathon/channel/ice swimmer and coach from New Zealand/USA
4. Jessie Campbell, ice/winter swimmer from Great Britain
5. Kimberley Chambers, marathon/channel/extreme/cross-border swimmer from New Zealand/USA
6. Devon Clifford, marathon/channel/open water swimmer from the USA
7. Jackie Cobell, channel/extreme/ice swimmer from Great Britain
8. Lorna Cochran, open water swimmer from South Africa
9. Olive Conroy, ice/winter swimmer from Ireland
10. Anna DeLozier, ice/winter swimmer from the USA
11. Beth French, channel swimmer from Great Britain
12. Elizabeth Fry, marathon/channel swimmer and event organizer from USA
13. Pat Gallant-Charette, channel/marathon swimmer from the USA
14. Pilar Geijo, professional marathon swimmer from Argentina
15. Ines Hahn, ice/winter/professional marathon swimmer from Germany
16. Jessi Harewicz, marathon/channel swimmer from Canada
17. Mariel Hawley Dávila, marathon/channel/cross-border swimmer from Mexico
18. Bárbara Hernández Huerta, winter/extreme swimmer from Chile
19. Bridgette Hobart, event organizer and marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
20. Elaine Howley, marathon/charity/ice swimmer and writer from the USA
21. Linda Kaiser, channel swimmer, advisor and administrator from the USA
22. Lori King, marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
23. Tita Llorens, marathon/channel swimmer from Spain
24. Marcy MacDonald, DPM, marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
25. Elina Makïnen, ice/winter swimmer from Finland
26. Angela Maurer, professional marathon swimmer and Olympian from Germany
27. Chloë McCardel, marathon/channel swimmer and coach from Australia
28. Tiffany McQueen, ocean/marathon swimmer from the USA
29. Sally Minty-Gravett, marathon/channel swimmer and coach from Great Britain (Jersey)
30. Jaimie Monahan, ice/winter/marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
31. Nuala Moore, marathon/ice swimmer, second, author and lecturer from Ireland
32. Victoria Mori, ice/winter/professional marathon swimmer from Argentina
33. Tina Neill, marathon/channel/backstroker/extreme relay swimmer from the USA
34. Anna-Carin Nordin, Oceans Seven/ice swimmer from Sweden
35. Renata Nováková, ice/winter swimmer from the Czech Republic
36. Magda Okurková, ice/winter swimmer from the Czech Republic
37. Penny Palfrey, channel/marathon/extreme swimmer from Australia
38. Ranie Pearce, marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
39. Cheryl Reinke, marathon swimmer from the USA
40. Charlotte Samuels, marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
41. Susan Simmons, marathon swimmer with Multiple Sclerosis from Canada
42. Kate Steels-Fryatt, polar ice miler and ice/winter swimmer from Great Britain
43. Sarah Thomas, marathon/extreme swimmer from the USA
44. Nora Toledano Cadena, marathon/channel/cross-border swimmer from Mexico
45. Natalie du Toit, professional marathon swimmer and Olympian from South Africa
46. Wendy Trehiou, marathon/channel swimmer from Great Britain (Jersey)
47. Wendy Van De Sompele, marathon swimmer and administrator from the USA
48. Samantha Whelpton, winter/ice swimmer from South Africa
49. Sabrina Wiedmer, ice/winter/marathon/channel swimmer from Switzerland
50. Julia Wittig, ice/winter swimmer from Germany

External links