Dover, England (NewsNation Now) — A 16-year-old New Hampshire teen successfully swam across the English Channel becoming the second United States citizen to complete the open water swim in 2020.
Vera Rivard told NewsNation she almost did not get the chance to compete because of the coronavirus pandemic. The teen swimmer said she trained for two years to do the course.
She started the swim around 9:30 am September 1 in Dover, England.
In 14 hours and 10 minutes, she swam through choppy waves and cold water to complete the 33-mile swim by reaching France. Her crew, mother and her 13-year-old sister cheered her on every stretch of the way.
“While I was swimming the channel, I was just so happy that I was even able to get there because of what is going on right now with COVID-19,” said Vera Rivard, marathon swimmer.
For two weeks, her family had to quarantine before leaving the United States and traveling oversees. Then they quarantined 2 weeks after returning.
Through donations and sponsors, her family raised about $15,000 for the swim.
“I have trained so hard for this and I was just so happy for everything that happened the way it did,” said the teenage swimmer.
She could only tread water every 45 minutes to eat and drink so she had to mentally and physically train for the marathon.
“As per channel rules, you can’t touch a boat. You can’t touch a person and you can’t touch anything that floats to aid you in any way,” she explained.
She told NewsNation her desire to swim started at 6 months old, when she first got into a pool to learn survival skills.
But she doesn’t take all the credit. Rivard said her family helped her train her entire life.
“It’s definitely a team effort. If it wasn’t a team effort, we wouldn’t have made it this far,” said Vera’s younger sister Margaret Rivard. “Our parents kayak for us in the water or our crew. We train together all the time to make ourselves better.”
She did not win money for the swimming across the English Channel. However, she did gain community recognition in her hometown of Springfield, New Hampshire. Friends, family and city leaders had a socially distanced parade in her honor.
She also signed her name and time record in United Kingdom history alongside past marathon swimmers at The Les Fleurs bar; which was originally built in the early 1880s.
For Rivard, this victory is another chance to spread her life motto, “Never Give Up.”
In July, she completed in the Manhattan Island Marathon swim. Her next goal is to swim the Catalina Channel in California. Then she will have a “Triple Crown” in long distance open water swimming.