Woman dies during English Channel charity swim

Susan Taylor was raising money for Rainbows Hospice and Diabetes UK, according to her Facebook fund-raising page.

Story highlights

  • Susan Taylor collapsed near end of 21-mile crossing, report says
  • 34-year-old was part-time accountant and fund-raiser
  • Only half a dozen channel deaths in 150 years of crossings, organization says
A British woman on a charity swim across the English Channel died during her bid, according to a post on her fundraising Facebook page.
Susan Taylor, 34, collapsed near the end of a 21-mile crossing from England to France about 5:30 p.m. Sunday, according to a report from The Independent.
"Whilst attempting to swim the English Channel yesterday my sister, Susan collapsed suddenly in the water. She was immediately recovered from the water and treated on the support boat. She was then air lifted by helicopter to a hospital in Boulonge. Susan tragically passed away," the posting on the Create a Ripple Channel Swim Facebook page said.
Media reports did not give a cause of death. A photo of the swim posted earlier Sunday showed calm waters in the channel.
"Please respect the families' privacy whilst they come to terms with what has happened," the Facebook post said.
Taylor undertook the swim to raise money for Rainbows Hospice and Diabetes UK, according to the Facebook page. She raised about $27,000 (18,000 British pounds) as of noon ET Monday, according to the donation site virginmoneygiving.com.
The Channel Swimming Association, which authorizes and supports channel crossings, called Taylor's death "a tragic loss under valiant circumstances."
"We extend our sympathy and thoughts to her family and friends at this very sad time. We have been asked by the family not to comment further. We will respect their wishes," a post on the association's website said.
Taylor's father, Ian Wright, spoke to British media.
"I'm devastated. I've lost the best person in the world. She was just wonderful," he told the Independent.
He told the paper his daughter worked part-time as an accountant while pursuing her charitable endeavors.
Geoff Ellis, chief executive of Rainbows Hospice, praised Taylor's fundraising efforts in an interview with the BBC.
"Susan was a wonderful woman who would do anything for anybody. She has been a much-loved ambassador at Rainbows for over two years, helping out at events and tirelessly fundraising for us," Ellis was quoted as saying.
Kevin Murphy, secretary of the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, told the BBC that deaths during channel swims were rare.
"We know it's an extreme sport, but its safety record is second to none. In nearly 150 years, there have been only half a dozen fatalities," the BBC quoted him as saying.
About 20 to 30 people make successful solo swims across the English Channel each year, according to soloswims.com.
The Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation reports 10 successful crossings this year; the most recent of those are four completed crossings on Monday.
Although the straight-line distance across the channel is 21 miles, swimmer must off swim much farther because of the effects of tides.