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Swimmer Facing the Channel Challenge

Elizabeth Fry, 52, attempts round-trip, solo crossing of the English Channel

No regrets

An observer from one of the associations that monitors cross-Channel swims will also be on hand to officially certify her back-and-forth completion, which doesn't include much of a stopover on the Continent. "I'll be there for about 10 minutes," says Fry. "The French don't really want you hanging around for very long in nothing but a Speedo."

While she has competed and set records in open-water swims in the United States, England and the Channel hold a special place in her heart. Fry's father, James, was English, and during World War II was one of only two survivors of a ship that was sunk. "He survived because he could swim," Fry says. "So all of his children were going to learn how to swim."

Which Fry did, along with her four siblings, on the beaches of Long Beach, N.Y. The family later moved to Connecticut, and while Fry swam in high school and at the University of Connecticut, she didn't have the scholarship opportunities that a talented young female swimmer today might have.

But she has no regrets. "When I get an opportunity to put my feet into the water off Shakespeare Beach to start this, I will be very thankful," says Fry. "To have the opportunity to do this, it's really a gift. I don't take it lightly."

John Hanc writes about fitness and health.

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