By Vern Glenn

(KPIX) — At 9pm Sunday July 8th, Melissa Blaustein from Mill Valley became the 1833rd swimmer to conquer the treacherous 21-mile gap separating England and France, known as the English Channel.

“I can’t really move my arms,” she told KPIX sports anchor Vern Glenn via Skype from Dover, England. “It’s worth it.”

Two years ago Blaustein wasn’t much of a swimmer, that was until she met Marathon Swim Champion Kimberley Chambers.

Chambers was the first woman to swim from the Farallon Islands to San Francisco, but lately has battled a disease that has left her paralyzed.

Blaustein used Chambers strength and a desire to raise money for medical costs as inspiration to try the swim. Two weeks ago, Blaustein got 13 hours in, a few miles from shore before unsafe conditions caused the captain of the project to stop.

“It was the most disappointing moment of my life,” she said. “So I moved into a Best Western hotel in Dover and I emailed every single pilot from the English Channel Swimming Association.”

Blaustein finally got her chance — fast forward to early Sunday, July 8 when the second attempt ensued. The journey was over 15 hours and 51 minutes later. Her body was filled with salt water when she reached the shore, and she celebrated with a couple beverages.

“With some hot chocolate and some champagne,” she said. “Even if I couldn’t taste it, I needed to celebrate.”

 

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