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Teen Swims English Channel
News Bytes 09/9/2020 16 Comments

Last week, a 16-year-old from New Hampshire successfully swam across the English Channel. The 33-mile swim is the teen’s second major open water course this year. She’s already planning her next big swim.

Vera Rivard left Dover in the United Kingdom around 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. She arrived on a beach near Calais, France, just before midnight the same day—a little more than 14 hours. She is the second American to cross the channel this year.

Rivard completed her first one-mile open water swim at the age of 10 in Vermont. She worked up to a 25-mile swim two years ago.

So many swimmers hope to swim the body of water between Great Britain and France that would-be crossers must book a slot. Rivard booked hers just after her 25-mile feat. She’s been training ever since.

“I wasn’t sure it was going to happen because of everything that is going on right now with the pandemic,” she says. “I was just so happy to get in the water at that point.”

Rivard and her family quarantined for two weeks before her swim in Dover.

On the big day, a pilot boat accompanied the teen swimmer. Her mother and younger sister were aboard as the crew.

“As she leaves the beach in England for her English Channel attempt, I will be the proudest parent ever! Not if she finishes, not how fast she swims, but that she was brave enough to start,” Rivard’s mother, Darcie DeBlois-Rivard, wrote beforehand on Facebook.

“Roly-poly” waves and 64-degree Fahrenheit water were just fine with the swimmer.

“I tend to get a little happier when the waves get a little choppy,” Rivard says. “I kind of get a little spark in my eye.”

In compliance with the Channel Swimming Association rules, Rivard did not leave the water or touch anyone or anything that floats during the swim. But she did stop to tread water every 45 minutes while consuming an energy gel and energy drink.

“I knew I was either going to start in the dark or end in the dark because there aren’t enough hours in the day,” she says. “I put a light on the back of my goggles so the boat [could] see me more easily.”

Rivard had already completed a long-distance swim around Manhattan Island in July. She hopes to swim a third major open water course to Santa Catalina Island off the California coast—the third in a “triple crown” of long-distance swims—someday. Just keep swimming, Vera!

(Long distance swimmer Vera Rivard swims the English Channel between Dover, England, and Calais, France, as a channel ferry sails in the background. Photo Darcie DeBlois-Rivard via AP)

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Most recent comments

1st Comment

WAY TO GO VERA RIVARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow! That is so amazing! I love swimming but only get to swim once a year when we go to our cabin on a lake. We like to swim to the island and back and that is 1/4 of a mile! And I thought that that was long and I got tired after that! Phew! 33 miles! She must be a very strong swimmer. Even 1 mile at age 10! And I love what her mother said, because it is so true. It shouldn't be all about winning, or in her case making it. It is about having the courage and spirit to do something that counts. That might be a little difficult to tread water and eat, but I guess if she can swim that long she can do it! and a teenage girl too! Not a strong full grown man or something! WAY TO GO!!!!!!!!


I totally agree Riley D

this is Mylee

wow Riley D it is true I thought that a mile is long enough but 33 !!!! I have always wanted to do swim team since a country club is right down the road but it coasts a lot of money. That really encourages me to keep going and to not give up.

Woah, that's so awesome!!

Woah, that's so awesome!!

fifth comment

I like swimming a lot, but i hate treading water! I could never have done this!
At Mylee, I agree, it is inspiring.
And at Riley D, it's cool how she's just a young girl.
(PS. I wouldn't want to swim at night!)

Wow! I don't think I would

Wow! I don't think I would even try to do something like that. That's great that she did that.

I would be scared stiff! The

I would be scared stiff! The whole time I should be thinking ‘’ Uh no I’m gonna get attacked by a shark!! Help get me out of here!!’’
I also don’t like treading water it just takes all the energy out of me! When I used to do swimming lessons with my school that’s the bit I really didn’t like.

so cool

i'm a swimmer, but not nearly that good! the youngest person to swim the channel was 12( i think) but then they made an age limit.

First comment!!!!!!!!!!!

I love that story! It is so inspiring! :-.)

Whoa, cool!

She should be my role model. Vera is so cool! I would be afraid about the sharks and rip currents. I am a good swimmer and love the water: As long as it's in the English Channel! ( Or Catalina. It's like, an hour by boat to get there! )

@Mirela J

I am surprised at the treading water thing! I actually kinda like treading water. I have learned to do it slowly so it doesn't zap my energy, by enough to keep just my head above water. In a life-saving swim class I took we had to tread water for five minutes straight!

That’s so dangerous though.

That’s so dangerous though. What if there was a shark in the ocean?


I think sharks would not be a problem. people most likely scout the area for sharks and their is a boat nearby..

But i still think that it is amazing that she swam 33 miles! I would have given up on the first (And i love to swim!).

@ Riley

Woah! 5mins!! ‘ Goodness gracious glory me!’ as Mary Poppins says.




I have never seen Mary Poppins.

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