Amber Keegan: City of Sheffield club swimmer takes on English Channel today after Olympic bid fell short

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Amber Keegan, member of City of Sheffield Swimming Club at Ponds Forge, did not give up on her sporting summer after her Olympic bid fell short.

For the 27-year-old, who has represented her club at national championships, it was a late switch to open water marathon swimming two years ago that took her closer to the Olympics than ever before.

Keegan finished in an impressive 28th place at the world championships in Doha in March, but unfortunately had to hit the top 16 for a place at Paris.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

So, instead of going to Paris this summer, she will swim two open water marathons for charity: one today (July 9) in the English Channel, and a second in Hawaii.

MAKING A SPLASH: Amber Keegan, pictured in the World Aquatics Open Water Swimming World Cup last year, is preparing for one of her toughest challenges yet. Picture: Octavio Passos/Getty ImagesMAKING A SPLASH: Amber Keegan, pictured in the World Aquatics Open Water Swimming World Cup last year, is preparing for one of her toughest challenges yet. Picture: Octavio Passos/Getty Images
MAKING A SPLASH: Amber Keegan, pictured in the World Aquatics Open Water Swimming World Cup last year, is preparing for one of her toughest challenges yet. Picture: Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Keegan said: “I’ve spent so much time in the water I felt it was right to give back to a charity that makes sure other people can enjoy swimming in those waters.”

The 21 miles between England and France will take her roughly eight hours, four times longer than the Olympic open water marathon.

“It’s going to be incredibly cold,” she says. “In 10k racing, if the water temperature is less than 18 degrees you’ve got to swim with a wetsuit on, but for this I can’t have a wetsuit on because it’s classed as assistance and won’t go down in the record books. The water temperature is going to be 15 degrees.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I think four times more people have climbed Everest than have swum the Channel, which shows how hard it is.”

THAT WAS THEN: Amber Keegan prepares to race in the Women's 400m Freestyle heats during the British Swimming Glasgow Meeting in June 2021. Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty ImagesTHAT WAS THEN: Amber Keegan prepares to race in the Women's 400m Freestyle heats during the British Swimming Glasgow Meeting in June 2021. Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
THAT WAS THEN: Amber Keegan prepares to race in the Women's 400m Freestyle heats during the British Swimming Glasgow Meeting in June 2021. Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

She will have a small team on a boat behind her who every 20 minutes will be giving her warm liquid. “Hot chocolate, warmed up Coca-Cola, lots of sugar and electrolytes,” says Keegan.

She hopes to make the attempt on Wednesday at 10am if the tides are favourable. If they are not, she could be starting as early as 2am.

So why has the Scunthorpe-born swimmer taken it on?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I had all that fitness after the world championships and thought what do I want to do?” she says. “I thought it would be really cool to put it towards something equally as incredible.

“The race in Hawaii is to raise awareness about global ocean health. It’s a different turn to my career but a pretty cool one.”

She will still go to the Olympics as a commentator on the swimming for Eurosport, but do these enormous challenges replace the buzz?

“You’re made to feel like the Olympics is the be all and end all and I was certainly given that impression by a lot of people, just not those closest to me,” she says.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“They’ve always done a good job of keeping me grounded and after years of injuries and illness, every opportunity I got to race for Britain on a world stage felt like an amazing second chance and I’m proud of that and don’t take any of it for granted.

“I was sad to miss out on the Olympics, but in a sport as unpredictable as ours it doesn’t define you as a person.”

To support Amber Keegan swimming the Channel visit https://www.justgiving.com/page/amber-keegan-1718883331186

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.