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Australian marathon swimmer Chloe McCardel has spoken of her pride at being crowned 'queen of the English channel' after completing a record-breaking 44th crossing of the 34km stretch of water between England and France.
The endurance athlete waved as she strode ashore near Pointe de la Courte Dune near the town of Calais on the French coast on Wednesday afternoon after a gruelling 10-hour swim across from Kent in southern England.
"I've been waiting a long time to celebrate this swim," McCardel said, wrapped in an Australian flag, after her record-breaking crossing.
"I am ecstatic, I have so much adrenaline and I am proud to finally be queen of the English Channel.
"It feels like my Channel journey is complete after 12 years and it feels great."
Having first crossed the channel in 2009, McCardel - who was born in Melbourne and now lives in Sydney - has now racked up an impressive 44 crossings.
Her 43rd swim, to equal the previous world record set in 2004 by British marathon swimming legend Alison Streeter, came last Thursday (7 October).
Last year, she completed her 37th swim to surpass the men's world record.
"Today, the conditions were very favourable and the sun even came out, which is rare for October in England," she said after her latest record-breaking effort.
"I was concerned my chest infection might affect my swim but I felt really good. Aside from some one-metre waves earlier, the last few hours were very flat so I got to just enjoy the swim and soak it all up.
"I have had immense support back in Australia. I want to thank everyone across the country who has supported me."
McCardel, who is also a motivational speaker, will return to Australia in November, where she hopes to use her achievement to inspire others.
"For now, I get to share my story and soak it all in," she said.
"I only learnt how to swim at the age of 11 and now, at 36, I have broken the record and swum the English Channel more times than anyone in the world.
"I really want to inspire young people, especially girls, and show them that anything is possible."