Woman becomes youngest Turk to swim across English Channel

Woman becomes youngest Turk to swim across English Channel

İZMİR - Demirören News Agency
Woman becomes youngest Turk to swim across English Channel

The 21-year-old Aysu Türkoğlu has become the youngest Turk to cross the English Channel in 16 hours and 28 minutes.

Entering the water from Dover on the English coast at 12:02 p.m. the previous day, Türkoğlu reached Cap Gris-Nez on the French coast at 4:30 a.m. the next day.

Her coach Bengisu Avcı Erdoğan, who also crossed the channel in 11 hours and 29 minutes in 2018, and her father accompanied Türkoğlu on an escort boat for 36 kilometers.

Türkoğlu broke the record of her coach Erdoğan, who had been the fastest Turkish female and youngest Turk to swim across the channel at just 22.

Türkoğlu, who is a student at Aegean province of İzmir’s Ege University, has practiced for weeks in the three-meter portable pool his father had built on the terrace of their house in the early days of the pandemic, the open water swimmer said.

“You are amazing Aysu. We are proud of you,” Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu said on his Twitter account.

In 1979, Nesrin Olgun Arslan became the first Turkish female to cross the channel, finishing the lap in 15 hours and 47 minutes.

The fastest Turkish swimmer to cross the channel is Erdal Acet, who completed his attempt in nine hours and two minutes in 1976.

Four swimmers, nationals of Türkiye, Iran and the U.K., also crossed the channel in 2019 as part of a fundraising campaign for the Association for Supporting Contemporary Life (ÇYDD), a Turkish nongovernmental organization that has been distributing scholarships to students and building and supplying schools for over 30 years.

The English Channel, covering an area of some 75,000 square kilometers, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France and links to the southern part of the North Sea by the Strait of Dover at its northeastern end.

Since Matthew Webb swam the channel in 1875, 1,881 people have done it 2,428 times, with a further 8,215 taking part in just over a thousand relay swims.

The world record is held by Australian Trent Grimsey, who swam the channel in six hours and 55 minutes in 2012, while the slowest was Jackie Cobell, who ended up swimming some 104 kilometers.

Channel Swimming Association (CSA), which was founded in 1927, draws up the code of rules governing the attempts.

The swimmer, who is not allowed to touch the boat and to wear thermal protectors and swimsuits that facilitate swimming, is fed gel foods passed by a long pole from the boat.

In the channel, where the temperature ranges from 14 to 18 degrees Celsius, but can drop to 6 C, according to CSA, the wavelengths can exceed two meters.

The channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, with 600 tankers and 200 ferries passing through every day. Swimmers are more likely to encounter jellyfish, algae and floating debris of all sizes.

While strong tidal currents and fog are seen, the weather can instantly get colder and torrential rain can begin during the attempts.