Steyning woman smashes Channel swim target, 22 years after 50ft fall from Shoreham Flyover

Steyning woman Sarah Cotton is attempting to swim the Channel - she fell from Shoreham Flyover 22 years ago, thought she'd never walk again. Pic Steve Robards SR1913345 SUS-190106-193002001
Steyning woman Sarah Cotton is attempting to swim the Channel - she fell from Shoreham Flyover 22 years ago, thought she'd never walk again. Pic Steve Robards SR1913345 SUS-190106-193002001

A former firefighter who feared she may never walk again after falling from the Shoreham Flyover has completed a remarkable swim across the English Channel.

Sarah Cotton, 52, from Steyning, completed the 35km marathon on Saturday in 11 hours and 33 minutes – almost three hours faster than she was expecting.

It marks an incredible turnaround for Sarah, who fell 50ft from the Shoreham Flyover in 1997 while helping the driver of a crashed lorry.

Read more on Sarah’s inspiring story and preparations for the swim here: Steyning woman prepares for English Channel swim, 22 years after 50ft fall from Shoreham Flyover

“It was amazing, it was the most amazing day,” she said.

“I just felt so good on the day, I knew I had it in my muscles and I knew I could do it, but half of it was about the mental approach.

“When I was clinging onto the rock in France and they said I’d done it in 11 hours and 33 minutes, I was absolutely gobsmacked.”

Her departure had been delayed by several weeks as organisers waited for suitable conditions and other adventurers backed up in front.

Despite the perfect weather, choppy seas around Dover posed a challenge initially, disrupting Sarah’s rhythm and adding mental fatigue to the physical exertion.

She soon got into her stride and began to make steady progress.

Sarah’s achievement was made all the more extraordinary given the fact she was stung on the face by a jellyfish around halfway through, also receiving stings to her hands and feet.

A further potentially tragic distraction followed as the air ambulance was called to her support boat after a member of the crew suffered a seizure.

Undeterred, she completed her feat at around 1pm British time.

She has already raised more than £1,100 for the charity Blind Dog Rescue UK. Donate to Sarah’s JustGiving page here: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sarah-cotton15