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Young Brazilian Woman Dies After Channel Swimming Attempt

August 24, 1988

DOVER, England (AP) _ A 20-year-old Brazilian woman died Tuesday night after trying to swim the English Channel, the coast guard said.

Renata Camara Agondi was pulled from the sea and into her escort boat when she encountered difficulty eight miles from Cap Gris Nez on the French coast at about 7 p.m. (2 p.m. EDT).

A British Air Force rescue helicopter summoned from Manston in southeast England took her from the boat and to Calais, France, but she died in an ambulance en route to a hospital there, a coast guard spokesman said.

The spokesman, speaking anonymously in keeping with British custom, said there was ″nothing untoward″ in weather conditions.

Dr. Christopher Stockdale, medical officer for the Dover-based Channel Swimming Association, said Miss Agondi was a marathon swimmer of worldwide status who three weeks ago successfully completed a world championship swimming race of similar distance.

The cause of death was not determined immediately. Stockdale said fatigue and hypothermia were possible factors in her death.

He said a doctor examined her on Aug. 12 and found her completely fit. Stockdale added that Miss Agondi appeared in perfect physical condition and was in good spirits before setting off from Dover for France Tuesday morning.

In a straight line, the distance from the southeast English port of Dover to the nearest point in France is 21 miles, but winds, tides and currents make the distance longer for swimmers.

Earlier Tuesday, high winds forced retired teacher Ashby Harper of Albuquerue, N.M., to abandon his attempt to become the oldest person to swim the channel. Harper, 71, was more than halfway across when he decided to get out of the water.

At least three people are known to have died previously trying to swim the channel since the first proved swim in 1875 by Matthew Webb, an English marchant navy captain. The last previous death was in 1984.

Fewer than one in 10 attempts to swim the channel are successful.

About 300 people, the youngest age 12 and the oldest 68, have conquered the waterway and a few of them have done it several times.

The swim is difficult because of the cold and throat-parching salt water, stinging jellyfish, floating logs, diesel fumes from the escort boat, winds and opposing tides that drag swimmers into an ″S″ course and nearly always add 10 miles or so to the distance.

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