Sarah Mortimer from Enniskerry swims the English Channel

The eyes of the world may be on Tokyo, but closer to home Sarah Mortimer made waves as she completed a Channel crossing from the UK to France on Wednesday night.

Mortimer, from Enniskerry, swam from Dover in southeast England to Cap Gris Nez, France, in 13 hours and 35 minutes.

Mortimer raises funds to support the work of the charity Orbis in Ethiopia, and has taken on a number of sporting challenges since 2015, including a blindfolded 10km run, a marathon and a half ironman.

Although not a competitive swimmer, she began training for her canal attempt in 2018. She retired after 25km from her first attempt on July 1, 2021, but completed the journey of 33 km one month later.

Speaking ahead of her run, she said: “In 2015 when I flew to Addis Ababa to participate in the Great Ethiopian Run for Orbis, I had no idea the impact this organization charity would have on me.

“After seeing the incredible work on the ground in Ethiopia, I realized I had to do more to support. And here I am, ready to take on my biggest challenge yet – none of which would have been possible without friends and an incredible family. I am honored by the support for me and Orbis.

Meanwhile, Orbis Chairman Dr Maurice Cox said, “Orbis is delighted to have Sarah’s support. As Sarah’s friend, I’m so proud of her today. It was a long journey of sweat and tears, but I never doubted it would end.

“Having known Sarah’s father, Liam, who was a former Irish international swimmer, I know he would have been very proud to witness this magnificent achievement.”

The rules for swimming in the channel state that swimmers cannot touch the boat and can only stop every 30 minutes for a maximum of 15 seconds. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Mortimer was only allowed five minutes on French soil before returning by boat to Dover.

Orbis Ireland, helps meet one of the world’s most pressing needs: the treatment and prevention of avoidable blindness.