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First woman to swim Belgian coastline has broken record

Credit: Marieke Blomme

Sports’ coach Marieke Blomme became the first woman to swim the entire Belgian coastline and broke the existing record by doing so in 18 hours and 45 minutes.

On Wednesday morning at 7:11 AM, Blomme left De Panne and successes in reaching the Dutch border in Knokke-Heist on Thursday around 2:00 AM, having swum around 65 kilometres.

“I have swum enough for a year, I think. It was hard. Especially towards the end. I am glad it is over,” Blomme told Radio 2 West-Flanders.

Blomme, from Mariakerke near Ghent, snatched the world record from 26-year-old Matthieu Bonne, who became the first person ever to complete a swim along the Belgian coast in under 24 hours in September last year, by a wide margin.

Blomme had postponed the record attempt from Monday to Wednesday due to weather conditions, but even then it was tough.

“The weather conditions were not optimal. There were many waves, especially near the wall of Zeebrugge. I could hardly get past them. Actually, it was not really safe at that moment, I think. I toyed with the idea of giving up for a while,” she said.

A boat was following her at all times to show her the way and give her food, including rice balls, peanut butter and energy bars, and drinks – sports drinks alternated with tea to help her get warm.

Blomme swam the coastline as part of a fundraiser, of which all profits will be donated to The Homestretch Foundation, which strives for equal opportunities for women in sport, and Snowbility, a non-profit organisation that makes winter sports accessible for people with a physical disability.

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