I am trying to swim Mobile Bay as part of training and qualifying to swim the English Channel

January 19, 2023

“I am a professor at Auburn. I started competing in triathlons with running, cycling, and swimming when I was 38. My body said, ‘thou shall stop running.’ I was never a fabulous runnerI’m not even a fabulous swimmerbut I’m stubborn and can go medium for a long time. I started with a Masters Swimming program for fitness and competed in meets. Swimming reduced my stress and made me a nicer person, and I realized endurance is my strength. About five years ago, friends introduced me to lake and river distance swim events around the country. It is fun, and I am just competing with myself. 

Distance swimming is one of the few sports where women’s times are similar to men’s. Swimming is also more of a lifelong activity than running or cycling, and we can do this until we die. It is also a great exercise for those of us with asthma. 

My longest swim was an 18.5 mile event in the three rivers around Pittsburgh. Then it dawned on me that I could swim the English Channel, so I got advice from others who swam it.

I just turned 54, and I am trying to swim Mobile Bay as part of training and qualifying to swim the English Channel. I will splash down at the Fairhope Pier at 8 p.m. and swim all night to the beach at Tacky Jacks in Ft. Morgan. It is 21 miles and will take about 16 hours.  The water temperature will be in the mid-60’s. My ideal temperature is the upper sixties. It gets harder to swim in warmer water. 

No one else has swam this route north to south, but some have gone east to west across the bay. This is a common length, but what makes it unique is the body of water and swimming at night. 

When I swim, I count my strokes and breathe. I swim from foot to foot or half hour to half hour, not thinking of the miles. Sometimes I get into a groove and zone out or I sing the song stuck in my head. Your body gets used to doing whatever you need to do.

I have been planning this swim for months and have a binder with every detail. My team will follow me in a boat with a monitor watching me at all times. Every half hour, someone will toss me a bottle with a powder drink similar to Gatorade with proteins and carbohydrates. I can feed in 30 seconds or less. I should be mildly hypothermic and completely exhausted when I finish. 

If there is no act of God such as lightning or strong wind, success will be standing up and walking onto shore on the other side.”



Here is the link to part two of Sara’s story: https://oursouthernsouls.com/start-small-just-get-started/


  1. Kathy Herr

    Wow! I’ve been a swimmer since I was very young. Masters, competitive. I’ve swam Alcatraz to SF. Never had a desire to swim long coarse or at night across a large body of water. You are a rock star. Congratulations and best of wishes as you tackle the English Channel. I’d love to follow you.

  2. Kim Helms

    Amazing accomplishment!! Congratulations achieving your goal!

  3. Conway Liz

    Best of luck to you. Your determination is inspiring.

  4. Kiela Christopher

    God bless you!!! You did something spectacular! You are an inspiration to so many. I pray that you find yourself swimming and succeeding in that English Channel dream!


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