An Australian marathon swimmer has made history after crossing the English Channel for a record 44th time.
Chloe McCardel waved as she strode ashore near Pointe de la Courte Dune on the French coast on Wednesday afternoon after a gruelling 10-hour swim across from Kent.
Her historic 44th swim across the Dover Strait sees her stand alone in the history books, and unofficially crowned “Queen of the English Channel”.
Ms McCardel was seen confidently cutting through the waves as she drew closer and closer to France, watched over by a safety boat.
Despite spending so many hours in the chilly Channel waters, the athlete appeared not to be letting up as she approached the sandy beach.
Finally walking ashore and out of the water, she turned and waved jubilantly to her supporters on board the safety boat, which sounded its horn in celebration.
Wrapped in an Australian flag as she celebrated her record-breaking swim, Ms McCardel said: “I’ve been waiting a long time to celebrate this swim.”
She said she felt “really good” despite having battled breathing difficulties caused by a chest infection in the past several days.
Ms McCardel added: “I’m so thankful, I’ve had so much support from people across the UK and Australia to get me through this last 12 years.
“So many people helped along the way to make my dreams come true and hopefully I can inspire the next generation of open water swimmers and young people to go after their dreams.”
“It’s been a really tough journey,” she added, “but I’ve persisted.”
Despite calm conditions on Wednesday and being a familiar environment for Ms McCardel, the English Channel remains a challenging swim, with an array of variables.
Changing tides can effectively add extra distance and waves can reach more than 6ft (2m) high, while the waters also host a stream of cargo ships and ferries.
But despite the challenges, Ms McCardel – who only learned to swim at the age of 11 – now looks at the Channel as her “spiritual home”.
She has said that, by taking on the gruelling crossing so many times, she wants to inspire girls and show that anything is possible.
Speaking ahead of the swim, said: “I think sometimes women don’t get recognised for their achievements as much as they should – to have female role models has been amazing for me and I really hope I can be that for other women and girls.”
Ms McCardel holds the world record for the longest unassisted ocean swim – 77 miles (124km) from South Eleuthera Island to Nassau in the Bahamas.
She also made a non-stop triple crossing of the English Channel in 2015, which took almost 37 hours.