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Six Relay Swimmers Complete Three-Way English Channel Crossing

August 15, 1986

DOVER, England (AP) _ Six relay swimmers, including a California teacher and a 15-year-old English boy, completed the first non-stop triple crossing of the English Channel on Thursday.

The team, five women and the youth, took 32 hours and 54 minutes to cross the 21-mile-wide waterway three times. Each team member swam an hour at a time.

The Channel Swimming Association said there had only been two other recorded attempts at a triple crossing. Both failed.

″I can’t wait to get back to work,″ said an exhausted Suzanne Heim, 28, of San Rafael, Calif. ″This was a first, and I can see why.″

Ms. Heim completed two solo crossings on July 30 and Aug. 10. She was a late addition to the relay team.

Ms. Heim said weather conditions were good and the camaraderie ″real special.″

″I think the hardest thing was trying to warm up after you swim,″ she said in a telephone interview. ″The first hour you spend shivering. Then you try to eat, and then you try to rest.″

The other team members were Darren Byer, 15, of Dover; Teruko Onuki of Tokyo, Japan; Annemie Landme and Chris Verbrugge of Belgium and Sylvia Van Amstel of the Netherlands. The women are all in their 20s.

The team swam from Shakespeare Beach in Dover to Cap Gris-Nez in France, back to St. Margaret’s Beach in Dover and finally to Cape Blanc in France, slightly off course.

They started at 5:29 a.m. Wednesday and finished at 2:23 p.m. Thursday. The first crossing took 9 hours 27 minutes, the second 10 hours and 49 minutes and the third 12 hours and 38 minutes.

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