Aysu Türkoğlu becomes first Turkish woman to swim the North Channel from Ireland to Scotland

A Turkish endurance swimmer who hit the headlines last year after becoming the youngest Turkish swimmer to cross the English Channel has made history again, this time by swimming across the North Channel.

Aysu Türkoğlu started her 21.4 mile swim from Donaghadee in Northern Ireland on Wednesday morning at 07:44 local time, reaching the Scottish coast the same evening at 19:32.

After swimming for nearly 12 hours, the 22-year-old athlete stepped on to land and was pictured proudly displaying the Turkish flag, as she dedicated her incredible achievement to Turkish women in this centenary year for the Turkish Republic.

This latest historic feat makes Bodrum-born Türkoğlu both the youngest Turk and also the first Turkish woman to swim across the North Channel.

Among those congratulating the young Turkish swimmer was the Turkish Embassy in Ireland, who posted a picture of her their Facebook account and wrote: “Congrats to #AysuTürkoğlu👏🏻🇹🇷 who has become the first and youngest Turkish woman athlete to swim across the North Channel today, from Northern Ireland to Scotland, in 11 hours 48 minutes!”

During her epic swim, Türkoğlu had to navigate the sea’s challenging conditions, from its colder water temperature (13 degrees Celsius) and strong tidal patterns, to avoiding dangerous sea life, including giant lion’s mane jellyfish, with her crew using whistles to alert her to their presence and help steer her away from their path and deadly stings. Türkoğlu’s Instagram also has footage of a school of dolphins leaping alongside her for part of the journey.


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About Aysu Türkoğlu

Türkoğlu is a third-year student at studying Sports Sciences at Ege University. She was born in Muğla, Bodrum, in May 2001 and has been swimming since the age of 7. She started long-distance swimming as a teenager. She shown an early aptitude for it, winning the first international Aquamasters women’s race she entered, swimming a 6 km (3.7-mile) course.

Last year, on July 29, she became the youngest Turkish athlete to swim the English Channel between England and France, completing the 21+ mile distance in a time of 16 hours and 28 minutes.

Türkoğlu now joins an elite group of several hundred long-distance swimmers, who have swum  across both the English and North Channels.

North Channel record breakers

The Turkish swimmer’s North Channel time of 11 hours 48 minutes, while incredible, is, however, a few hours off the fastest recorded time by a woman.

On 15 July 2013, Michelle Macy (USA) became the fastest solo female swimmer across the North Channel, completing her swim in a record time of 9 hours 34 minutes 39 seconds.

The all-time fastest person across the North Channel is Irish swimmer Jockey Leckey, who clocked 9 hours and 9 minutes in 2021. The youngest ever person to complete the distance is 19-year-old Indian Parbhat Koli, who finished in 10 hours and 41 minutes in 2018.