Surfers Against Sewage: Amber Keegan, competitive swimmer, takes on English Channel to raise money for charity against raw waste in UK waterways

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Amber Keegan, who has swam competitively for almost 20 years, is attempting to swim the English Channel to raise money for Surfers Against Sewage.

In an interview with sewage charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), Ms Keegan said she is “training about 60 km per week at the moment, as well as two gym sessions and typically at least one other form of activity a week” in preparation for the English Channel swim. The 27-year-old fell short in a bid for her shot at competing in the Paris Olympics, finishing in a nonetheless impressive 28th place at the World Championships in Doha in March.

Unfortunately she had to hit the top 16 for a place at Paris, however, this has not stopped her from taking on the challenge and seeing the positives. She focused on how close she had got after years of hard graft and chose to dedicate her time to helping others.

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The 21 miles between England and France will take her roughly eight hours, four times longer than the Olympic open water marathon. Ms Keegan is currently waiting for a weather window to allow her to swim.

Amber Keegan, who has swam competitively for almost 20 years, is attempting to swim the English Channel to raise money for Surfers Against Sewage. (Photo: Getty Images)Amber Keegan, who has swam competitively for almost 20 years, is attempting to swim the English Channel to raise money for Surfers Against Sewage. (Photo: Getty Images)
Amber Keegan, who has swam competitively for almost 20 years, is attempting to swim the English Channel to raise money for Surfers Against Sewage. (Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

She wrote on her JustGiving page: “This year, I raced at the 2024 World Champs, where I aimed to qualify for Paris 2024 Olympic Games. I had a shocker in the second half of the race. It happens to us all on the occasional day, it just sucked that for me it was on my only day of Olympic qualification (no excuses, c'est la vie!!).I was heartbroken, but also so proud to have made it as far as I did... and with all of the training behind me, I didn't want to stop swimming there.

“So I went in search of a bigger challenge... and the 34 km swim from England to France is certainly bigger!!! I'll hopefully be swimming for around 8 hours, but I'm at nature's mercy - it could be shorter, or much longer! Almost 4 x more people have summited Everest than successfully swum the English Channel! I'm terrified and excited!”.

Speaking on why she is raising money for SAS, Ms Keegan told the charity that “we have all been unknowingly swimming in some concentration of sewage at times, and that’s concerning for all of us”. She said: “I’ll sometimes choose my swim locations based on the likelihood of sewage being recently dumped, which is pretty gross and sad really!

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“I was at the Olympic test event last year in Paris, where people had come from all around the world to race… and it got called off because so much sewage had been dumped in the river! So that’s a pretty big example. As elite athletes, we have to be conscious about our health to not be missing training through illness.”

Ms Keegan is currently studying a PhD at The University of Sheffield. To support her swimming the Channel click here.

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