Infinity Channel's "The Deep End" Podcast: Insights into Sarah Thomas' North Channel Double Crossing

Infinity Channel’s “The Deep End” Podcast: Insights into Sarah Thomas’ North Channel Double Crossing

In episode 14 of Infinity Channel’s “The Deep End” podcast, Sarah Thomas talks about her double crossing of the North Channel. On July 9, 2022, Sarah Thomas completed a two-way crossing of the 21.4-mile North Channel in 21 hours, 46 minutes, and 38 seconds. Guided by Infinity Channel Swimming, she started from Portpatrick, Scotland, and reached The Gobbins, Co Antrim, setting a new female one-way record pace. Her talk with Pádraig Mallon and Jacqueline McClelland offers tons of great insights for open water swimmers considering crossing the North Channel.

Here are some of the podcast’s highlights:

Overcoming Fear of the North Channel

“For years, I was terrified of the North Channel.”

Sarah Thomas didn’t always have the North Channel on her list. There were too many stories of cold water and jellyfish from other swimmers. But nudges from Jacqueline and “hearing from people who love it” helped. She said, “there has to be some truth to that.”

Training in Cold Water

“Monterey Bay was awful… but it prepared me for the North Channel.”

To prepare, Sarah immersed herself in some of the coldest and roughest waters she could find. She swam in Monterey Bay known for being cold and full of jellyfish.

High-Volume Training Routine

“I always do six weeks at 60k or more.”

The First Leg

“The whole first lap was me evaluating if I wanted to make the turn.”

The constant cold and the anticipation of jellyfish stings kept her on edge.

The Turnaround: Mental Hurdles and Crew Support

“Ryan didn’t give me the option to quit.”

Ryan, her husband and key support crew, played a crucial role here. Sarah knew that if anyone asked her if she wanted to stop, she might have said yes. But Ryan and the crew’s firm resolve kept her going.

Nutrition and Hydration Strategy

“This consistent intake helped maintain my energy levels throughout the swim.”

Sarah’s nutrition strategy was methodical. Every 30 minutes, she consumed a mix of carbohydrates, a small amount of protein, and electrolytes, totaling about 200 calories per hour.

Adapting to Conditions: Warm Feeds

“Ryan sent me down something warm, and it made a huge difference,”

During the colder parts of the swim, warm feeds became a game-changer. This adaptability in her nutrition plan was crucial in maintaining her energy and morale.

Jellyfish

“I was getting stung repeatedly… it demoralized me.”

Jellyfish stings were a tough challenge. They were especially hard during the second leg when visibility was low. Staying present and focusing on immediate goals helped her push through.

Staying Mentally Tough

“Sometimes things are just too big… it will overwhelm you.”

Sarah’s ability to break down the swim into manageable segments was key. By focusing on the next immediate goal rather than the entire distance, she kept her spirits up and avoided feeling overwhelmed.

Support and Motivation

“Having a crew that knows when to push and when to provide comfort is essential.”

Sarah’s crew, particularly Ryan, played an indispensable role. “Ryan is the most solid support crew you could ever have,” she emphasized. His experience, calm demeanor, and understanding of her needs were critical to her success.

Realizing the Magnitude

“A couple of weeks later, I realized it was a pretty big deal.”

It took some time for Sarah to fully grasp the magnitude of her achievement. The North Channel double crossing, as well as her English Channel four-way, stand out as her most challenging and rewarding swims.

Watch the podcast

WOWSA