Joanne Norman conquers the challenge of the Channel for 50th
A Geraldton couple stayed up late on Monday anxiously refreshing a website as they tracked their daughter in real time on the other side of the world.
Tony and Robin Davis were watching 50-year-old Joanne Norman become the 2010th person to swim the English Channel to France since the first solo crossing in 1875.
“If all had gone to plan, we would have been right there on the boat cheering her on,” Mrs Davis said.
“Unfortunately, COVID threw the whole world into disarray. It feels like I swam every stroke with her. I’m as tired as she is.”
They describe Joanne as a “powerhouse” who does everything she sets her mind to, from her water polo days at the Aquarena to triathlons across the world.
“She broke the 50m breaststroke State record in 1978 you know,” Mrs Davis said proudly.
“It was the first State record set at the Aquarena.”
She reached the shores of France after a marathon 12 hour 42 minute swim.
Joanne said she could not have completed the challenge without the support of friends and family.
Asked why the swim was important, she had a simple answer.
“I turned 50 last year and wanted to celebrate by doing something fairly significant,” she said.
“We were on holiday in Dover in 2019 and the idea just clicked.”
Plans for her swim were delayed by the pandemic but she kept training from her home in Abu Dhabi and, after 21 days of travel and quarantine, took the plunge this week.
She said she was exhausted from the 45km swim but was already exploring ideas for her next big challenge.
“I’ve got a few ideas, but for now I think I’ve earnt some downtime with my family,” she said.
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