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McCardel on verge of Channel swim history

AAP logoAAP 6/09/2016 Joe Barton

From a near-death experience suffering heat stroke in the burning Caribbean sun to hypothermia after being pulled out of freezing Atlantic waters, Chloe McCardel has suffered for her sport.

And that's before mentioning the savage box jellyfish stings the open-water marathon swimmer endured on a failed attempt at navigating the waters between the US and Cuba.

McCardel's also the record holder of the longest unassisted ocean swim, having covered the 124.4km from South Eleuthera Island to Nassau, Bahamas in 41 hours, 21 minutes.

The 30-year-old is undeniably established as one of the premier marathon ocean swimmers on the planet.

But McCardel is on the verge of an achievement she'll consider her greatest: a 20th crossing of the English Channel to break the 36-year-old Australian record held by Des Renford.

No Australian has swum the Channel more than the 19 completed by Renford before he died in 1999.

"He's an icon," McCardel told AAP.

"He inspired so many Australians. I want to be similar to what he was like back then, inspire people to do whatever they want in their lives.

"(Swimming the Channel) is a love affair. It's the centre of the marathon swimming world.

"You're not a marathon swimmer until you've swum the Channel solo.

"That's where you test yourself. It's where you take on mother nature, the cold and the waves."

And it is with the blessing of Renford's family that McCardel will take to the water this month.

This record is particularly special as McCardel's husband Paul McQueeny, who she met through ocean swimming, was mentored by Renford's son Michael.

"It's like Des is passing on the baton to you," McCardel said of the Renford family support.

"There's a symbolic changing of the guard."

McCardel, who last year became the first Australian to do a non-stop triple crossing of the Channel, plans to do her record-equalling crossing later in September while the magic 20th is tentatively scheduled for the second week of October.

And she says they never get easier.

"But if I complete this, it's something no one has ever done," McCardel adds.

"I'm one of the pioneering people who gets to move this forward where no one has been before. That's very humbling."

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