Jenny Birmelin

From Openwaterpedia

Jenny Birmelin of Farmington Hills, Michigan is a 34-year-old coach and marathon swimmer who was the first Michigan woman to complete a solo swim of the English Channel.

English Channel Crossing Details

Birmelin began her swim, certified by the Channel Swimming Association at 12:05 a.m. EST (4:05 am Dover time) at Shakespeare Beach in Dover, England and arrived 11:36 a.m. EST (3:36 pm GMT) the same day on the sandy beach of Wissant, France. Her official recorded time is 11 hours, 31 minutes and 7 seconds and the 414th fastest time out of 1,651 solo swims.

Birmelin was escorted by a pilot boat, the Louise Jane, with her husband Noah Birmelin, her aunt Lynn Frikker and friends from her Livonia-based swim club, FAST, Karen Rosinski and Cheryl Machovec Dehn supplying food and hot liquids during her monumental swim.

"I couldn’t do this without a cable-strength support system. My support crew on the boat never took their eyes off of me, especially when I started my swim in dark of early morning. They always knew what to say to keep me going. I didn’t bring people with me who would tell me it’s okay to get out of the water. So many people back home were hopeful of my success. Thoughts of them – and a warm blanket and socks – helped propel my every stroke. Even though the boat co-captain was telling me to stand-up [when I reached France], I was concerned about collapsing after being horizontal in the water for so long. I finally put one foot down, then the other, and wobbled like Bambi before coming to a full stand. Swimming the English Channel represents another life goal that I set, worked toward and reached. You always need to be ‘in pursuit’. That is how I’ve always lived my life."


She received the 2014 Kerry O’Brien Coaches Award, an annual award given by U.S. Masters Swimming, named to honor the Walnut Creek Masters (Pacific) coach who embodies the passion, dedication, and heart that USMS coaches bring to the pool deck and open water.

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