Can Mariya conquer la Manche and become the first Danish-based international to swim the English Channel?

Should Krestyanska be successful, she’ll also become the first ever Ukrainian woman to complete the crossing

Swimming the English Channel is no easy feat. Just ask Captain Matthew Webb, the first to achieve the milestone in 1875.

Choosing the shortest possible route, the 34 km stretch between Dover and Calais, the Englishman managed to zig-zag his away across, evading jellyfish stings and strong currents to swim 64 km in total!

It wasn’t until 1911 that a second swimmer spanned the channel, and since then another 1,749 have followed suit, completing a total of 2,278 solo trips.

A first for the international community and Ukraine
Just eight Danes are among them. Starting with Jenny Kammersgaard, who made two crossings in the early 1950s, the first three to swim the channel were all women, and it wasn’t until 2006 that a man, Bo Stenhuus, finally made it over.

Indeed, the route has gained in popularity this century with five making it over (see below).

But to our knowledge an international living in Denmark has never completed the swim. So step forward (or should that be paddle onwards) Mariya Krestyanska, who moved here from Ukraine ten years ago and is preparing for an attempt to cross in late July.

Should she make it, she will become the first ever Ukrainian woman to accomplish the feat.

Hard training in Svanemølle
Krestyanska, a swimming coach at Copenhagen Mermates, has been training at Svanemøllestranden, where her long swims have been generating quite a buzz in her build-up to her attempt.

In accordance with the rules, she will be making the swim without a wetsuit in waters expected to be 14-18 degrees, and she estimates the completion will take her 15-20 hours.

It will be no formality, as the deaths of nine swimmers over the years, and Webb’s zig-zagging into immortality, surely testify.