A woman from Singapore will be the first Singaporean female to attempt to swim the English Channel in an effort to raise funds to support charity expansion.
HONG KONG— Amateur swimmer Li Ling Yung-Hryniewiecki is going to attempt to swim the English Channel, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, infested with jellyfish and chilling temperatures ranging from 45 to 61 degrees. This attempt will be the first to be done by a Singaporean woman and will challenge her with 34-kilometers of swimming, a little more than 21 miles.
When taking the fluctuation of the weather conditions into account, registered swimmers are allotted a date window by the Channel Swimming Association, in which the swimmer must be available to start their swim when the weather is deemed suitable. Yung-Hryniewiecki’s window is between Aug. 31- Sept. 9. She will be followed closely by a CSA-registered pilot boat which will provide safety checks, nutrition, and encouragement when needed. However, physical contact between the swimmer and the boat is not permitted during the swim. Likewise, the pilot will help Yung-Hryniewiecki safely navigate one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, with around 600 tankers and 200 ferries passing through daily.
“I will have a support boat alongside me the whole way,” said Yung-Hryniewiecki in an email from Aug. 23. “My support crew on the boat will be able to throw me a carbohydrate drink from the boat every half an hour, which they will pull back with a rope. Under Channel swimming rules I cannot touch another person nor the boat, so will tread water while I drink.”
Yung-Hryniewiecki is taking on the challenge in an effort to support the Splash Foundation, who provide zero-cost swimming courses and water safety skills to low-income communities. Her goal is to raise the equivalent of $32,000 USD in SGD to support the charity’s expansion plans. Splash is composed of a mix of volunteers and professional coaches that have taught thousands of migrant domestic workers and underprivileged children the fundamentals of water safety and how to feel the most comfortable they can in the water.
“I am feeling quite excited now that the date is coming, and cautiously optimistic!” said Yung-Hryniewiecki. “I have had many people support the fundraising cause for Splash, and I will try my best to have a successful crossing!”
Yung-Hryniewiecki is a volunteer coach and advocate for the foundation’s, “everyone can swim” mantra and her fundraising goal will support coaching for 100 domestic workers from Singapore’s under-resourced communities as Splash extends its reach outside of Hong Kong.
“Through my involvement with Splash, I’ve seen first-hand the journey from complete beginner to confident swimmer,” said Yung-Hryniewiecki in a press release from Aug. 22. “Swimming truly is available to everyone. I hope to show that stepping outside your comfort zone, and even taking part in endurance events, is not reserved for the elite.”
The English Channel connects England to France, and swimming it is a demanding challenge that is considered the ultimate long-distance challenge. There have been more successful attempts at climbing Mount Everest than those who have attempted to swim the Channel; the first successful passage was in 1875. The average solo crossing time takes about 13 and a half hours.
In 1926, Gertrude Ederle made history by becoming the first woman ever to successfully swim the English Channel. Ederle was 20 years old when she accomplished the challenge and had beat the fastest man’s existing record by nearly two hours. Today’s world record was set in 2012 by Trent Grimsey at 6 hours and 55 minutes.
Yung-Hryniewiecki manages a full-time job in Hong Kong’s financial sector and a training schedule that totals 28 miles per week at its peak to help her achieve the difficult task of acclimating to the cold water. The Channel is notorious for cold water conditions which will push a swimmer’s body to the limits.
To have an attempt be officially recognized by the CSA, athletes gear is limited to a swimming cap, goggles, a nose clip, earplugs, and a swimsuit.
Yung-Hryniewiecki has been preparing by spending her last few winters training in Hong Kong’s chilly offshore waters while focusing on adding vital body fat that is necessary for maintaining an optimal core temperature to avoid hypothermia. Splash Co-founder Simon Holliday saluted the impact Yung-Hryniewiecki has made on students to date.
“An estimated 4.4 billion people, mostly women, can’t swim,” said Holliday in the press release. “As a long-time Splash volunteer coach, Li Ling has given so much of her time to help others. The funds raised will enable us to provide a vital life skill that can profoundly impact the physical and mental wellbeing of students in Singapore. All at Splash are incredibly proud of Li Ling and can’t wait to cheer her on!”
Donations can be made at https://go.sparkraise.com/li-lings-english-channel-swim.