A little more than a week after a great white shark stopped her training partner’s attempt to swim from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallon Islands, New Zealander Kim Chambers became the first woman to ever complete the 30-mile open ocean marathon swim on Saturday night.
It took the 38-year-old Chambers 17 hours and 12 minutes to finish the swim.
“I’m completely overwhelmed,” Chambers told CNN. “It’s something I’ve wanted for so long.”
Only four other swimmers (all male) had ever accomplished the icy, shark-infested swim. Perhaps even more notable is that Chambers, who started the swim Friday night and finished shortly after 5pm on Saturday, did the entire swim without a wetsuit.
“This is the hardest open-water swim in the world,” Chambers’ coach Vito Bialla told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I think she’s the top open-water swimmer in the world right now.”
The San Francisco-based Chambers said the hardest part of finishing the swim was overcoming an illness in the middle of the night that made it hard for her to stomach food.
“It was a really tough swim,” Chambers said. “I was pretty ill in the middle of the night, and I couldn’t keep any food down. I actually felt my swim was over, because I needed to feed every 30 minutes and I just couldn’t [keep] anything down.”
Ultimately, Chambers pushed through and successfully made her way into the record books.
Chambers picked up swimming in 2009 after an accident almost forced her to amputate a leg. She recently became only the sixth person (and second woman) to ever complete the Ocean’s Seven — a collection of long-distance open ocean swimming challenges that includes the English Channel and the Straight of Gibraltar, among others.
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