Published: 20:04, 03 September 2020
| Updated: 09:22, 08 September 2020
A former GB triathlete who hadn't swum for 15 years is making a comeback with her first solo English Channel swim attempt.
Sarah Philpott, 41, from Dover represented Great Britain on six occasions from 1999 to 2002 at one Europeans and five World Championships, competing across Canada, Australia, Mexico, France and Germany.
The former Sir Roger Manwood's pupil was forced to retire from triathlon due to a knee injury caused by running so switched to mountain biking and annual pilgrimages to get her kicks.
Having not been in the water competitively for a decade and a half, she decided to use the pandemic to jump back in.
Although still working throughout lockdown testing medical devices at Medical Engineering Technologies (MET), she used swimming in the sea as her one hour of daily exercise.
She said: “Living in Dover you are never short of inspirational people that come here to attempt to swim the channel, it’s like living at the foot of Everest and not wanting to climb the mountain."
Fast-forward five months and Ms Philpott found herself completing six and then eight-hour training sessions in Dover Harbour.
She will be attempting to swim the 21 miles across the English Channel in mid-September.
She said: "This year was the first time that I have ever ventured into the sea and to my amazement I fitted into my old competition wetsuit!
"By May I was swimming non-wetsuit and acclimatising to the cold water, swimming for one hour at a time.
"By early June I could only manage three hours before the cold was too much, but eventually I made the jump and swam for six hours in sub-16°C water at the end of the month, and this meant that I could qualify to swim the Channel.
"Since then, the longest training session has been eight hour and I estimate the Channel to take me 14-16 hours so that means I’ve trained for half the distance now."
The 41-year-old was part of a Channel Relay Team in 1998, and has always promised herself that she would do a solo attempt when she reached her 40s.
"And here I am," she said.
"Whilst I was a seasoned triathlete the transition to long distance swimming has been a real challenge.
"I’ve had to significantly change my pace, endure the cold water and work much harder on training the mind more.
"I’m confident about giving it my best shot, but I won’t deny that the long hours, the cold water, swimming at night and the jelly fish all scare me.”
With the full support of her employer, Ms Philpott has not only been busy training but working hard to raise the profile of her two chosen charities.
These are the Worldwide Cancer Research, a UK-based charity that funds bold new research projects for all types of cancer.
She was inspired to chose this cause by the grit and determination of her 1998 channel-relay team member Sophie Papougnot, who continues to swim in the sea as much as possible despite currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy for breast cancer.
Her second chosen charity is Fifth Sense - the first UK charity that supports people who have smell and taste disorders.
She said: "Whilst losing ones’ sense of smell might seem trivial to many, the impact is huge. You can’t smell danger, i.e. fire, gas or spoiled food.
"More poignantly the team at Fifth Sense have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic as global evidence emerged that a sudden loss of smell was a symptom of the coronavirus."
To help Sarah reach her £6,000 sponsorship target visit click here .