Li Ling Yung-Hryniewiecki, 37, first S'porean woman to swim across 34km English Channel from England to France

In 12 hours and 54 minutes.

Belmont Lay | September 16, 2022, 02:49 PM

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Li Ling Yung-Hryniewiecki, 37, became the first Singaporean woman to swim 34km across the English Channel.

She completed the swim in 12 hours and 54 minutes.

Her feat of endurance was reported by CNA and The Straits Times.

She arrived in Dover in England 10 days before her swim in 19°C waters, which started off at the coast of Samphire Hoe near Dover at 1am on Sunday morning, Sep. 11.

She was accompanied by a boat with her husband, coach, and others to Cap Gris-Nez in northern France.

The cape is the closest point between the north of France to the south of England.

Two-year training period

Yung-Hryniewiecki had spent the past two years planning for this swim.

To prepare for the swim in chilly conditions, she would take hour-long ice baths weekly and regular cold showers, as well as training over the winter in Hong Kong waters.

She even put on 10kg for the swim.

Over the last few months, she practised by swimming about 30km to 35km every other week.

via Splash Facebook

Initial challenges

Donning a regular swim suit that left her legs and arms exposed, goggles, nose clips, ear plugs and a swimming cap, she started the swim when it was dark.

She could not take to the water initially due to unfavourable conditions during a slot assigned to her.

This was part of a nervous two-weeks wait in Dover for a weather window to present itself.

But she got her chance to wing it eventually.

Had to eat in water

To last through almost 13 hours of non-stop swimming, she broke the journey down into 30-minute intervals.

Every 30 minutes, Yung-Hryniewiecki would be fed via a bottle that contained liquid "feed".

The feed consisted of a carbohydrate drink, flat Coke with extra sugar, dissolved sports gels and Milo.

"I need to have them all but my favourite's the Milo," she said with a laugh, according to CNA.

To consume the feed for about 20 seconds, she had to do a breaststroke kick to keep moving ahead.

Painkillers were mixed in with some of the feed.

She also had to take sea sick pills every four to six hours.

Test of endurance

Seeing the sunrise at 6am lifted her spirits.

While most of the swim was uneventful, things got challenging at the 11.5-hour mark, when the tide changed and Yung-Hryniewiecki realised she was drifting away from her planned route.

For 20 minutes, she entered a state of panic that affected her stroke.

She felt she was almost knocked off course by the current.

via Splash Facebook

But she continued to push through.

Raising funds

Yung-Hryniewiecki was swimming to raise funds for Splash Foundation that offers free beginner lessons and water safety skills to low-income communities in Hong Kong, where she has been based since 2019.

The Singaporean, who works in the finance sector, has been a volunteer coach with the non-profit organisation for about three years.

She has raised HK$188,451 (S$33,837) out of the HK$250,000 (S$44,889) goal.

Yung-Hryniewiecki participated regularly in triathlons in the United Kingdom where she relocated about 18 years ago

Before that, she swam competitively till she was about 10.

Historian Thum Ping Tjin is the first Singaporean to swim across the Channel in 2005.

Thum is a former national swimmer and Olympian.

Briton Matthew Webb was the first recorded person to complete the swim in 1875, taking almost 22 hours.

Top photos via Splash Facebook