English Channel Swimmer Died One Mile From Land

A British woman has died after collapsing while attempting to swim across the English Channel.

Having set off in the early hours of Sunday, married accountant Susan Taylor was just a mile off the coast of France, near Sangatte.

The 34-year-old was pulled from the water by her paramedic brother David, who then battled to save her life on the boat accompanying her attempt. The support team alerted French emergency services and requested a defibrillator.

She was airlifted by a French naval helicopter to a hospital in Boulogne-sur-Mer, where she was pronounced dead at 7.15pm on Sunday.

Speaking at the family home, Mrs Taylor's father, 68-year-old Arthur Wright, said: "I'm devastated. I've lost the best person in the world. She was just wonderful.

"She had swum 30 miles and she got to the last part and that's when it happened. That's as much as I know."

He said the family had celebrated Mrs Taylor's birthday and her brother's birthday at a restaurant last Thursday and that he last saw his daughter on Friday night.

"I saw her to say I hope it goes well and gave her a kiss," he said.

Mr Wright said his daughter had given up her full-time job to carry out charitable work and was working part-time as an accountant.

She had also done wing-walking and a parachute jump, and was a qualified rally driver.

"She was certainly not a boring accountant," he said.

Also on the boat was Mrs Taylor's husband Stephen, her coach who has been training her since she was eight years old, and a support swimmer.

She had been attempting to raise money for Rainbows Hospice and Diabetes UK through her Facebook page Create A Ripple Channel Swim .

A message apparently posted by her sister on the page said: "Thank you for your messages of support. If you would like to leave a sign of respect please feel free to donate to her fund raising page."

She set off from Samphire Hoe at around 1am on Sunday and weather conditions were reported to be relatively good when she encountered difficulties, with water temperatures of 15C.

Posts on her Facebook page show supporters began to fear for Mrs Taylor at around 9pm.

Sarah Taylor wrote: "Any news Susan Taylor? Can't seem to get any track since 6.30? Xxxxxxxx."

A short time later, Clare Biddle posted: "Hope all is ok?? Tracker has stopped!! Susan you are a star xxx."

At around 11pm, a user called Maverick Marc Richardson wrote: "What's going on no news and tracker doesn't look good."

The messages reflected mounting concerns among her supporters, with Lauren Boat writing at 10am today: "Really hope your OK Susan, thinking of you xx."

More than 100 comments followed within an hour of the message from Mrs Taylor's sister.

One post, from Rebecca Adie-Drackley, said: "RIP Susan. Swimming was your life all through school from Barwell Infants we all grew up together. I am so sad I cannot think of any words at this time. God bless you, it was an honour to grow up with you xxx."

Mrs Taylor's crossing was being overseen by the Channel Swimming Association , one of the two official British organisations who authorise the attempts.

Dr Julie Bradshaw, secretary of the association, told Sky News: "Susan was a bubbly person, full of life and always doing things for other people."

Kevin Murphy, who is secretary of the other official body, the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation (CS&PF) , oversaw Mrs Taylor's six-hour assessment swim - which everyone attempting to swim the Channel must undertake.

He told Sky News: "She was a very nice woman, a very good swimmer and we're all very upset.

"I got to know her while overseeing her assessment swim. It is an extreme sport but has a safety record that is second to none among extreme sports. Both the official organisations work within the strictest of conditions in terms of safety.

"Susan has passed away doing something she loved and raising money for two fantastic causes. I would hope people recognise that and feel moved to donate money to those causes in her memory."

He said the zig-zag pattern on the tracker charting her progress was normal and reflected the tidal flows that affect swimmers' routes during the attempts.

Mrs Taylor is the eighth person to die while trying to swim the channel since the first recorded attempt in 1875.

Geoff Ellis, chief executive at Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People, said: "Susan was a wonderful woman who would do anything for anybody.

"She has been a much loved ambassador at Rainbows for over two years, helping out at events and tirelessly fundraising for us.

"She was more than an ambassador; she was part of the Rainbows family."