Aysu Türkoğlu becomes youngest Turkish swimmer across the English Channel

Aysu Türkoğlu made history at the weekend by becoming the youngest Turk to swim across the English Channel.

The 21-year-old Turkish student entered the water at Dover 10:02 UK time on Friday, 29 July, and completed her swim at Cap Gris-Nez, in northern France, 16 hours and 28 minutes later.

Türkoğlu, who had to battle a choppy sea with multidirectional currents and big waves, was crying with relief and happiness when she emerged from the water, asking for a “sandwich” as she was “really hungry”. Her journey had been captured by her trainer Bengisu Avcı and father Mustafa Türkoğlu, who followed the swimmer in a boat.

The young Turk, who is an undergraduate at Ege University Faculty of Sports Sciences in Izmir, had undergone major preparation for the race and had to wait a few days in Dover for the right weather conditions before embarking on her swim.

In order for her record to stand, she had to adhere to the rules set by the Channel Swimming Association, which bans wearing a thermal swimsuit despite the coldness of the sea, or the swimmer touching the accompanying boat at any time during the swim across the Channel.

Battling the waves and currents, the unpredictable weather and cold sea are not the only challenges Türkoğlu faced. The Channel is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, with hundreds of tankers, ferries and other boats creating additional hazards for swimmers.

Map Aysu Türkoğlu shared of her swim on her Instagram, showing her route across the English Channel, 29-30 July 2022


It meant Türkoğlu swim was far longer than the 21 miles (34 km) distance for the most direct route across the Channel, as the map she shared on Instagram after (also above) showed.

When Türkoğlu was within touching distance of France, her trainer Avcı dived in the water and swam alongside her. After the pair emerged on land in France, they opened the Turkish flag.

First Turks to swim the English Channel

Türkoğlu’s feat makes her one of 16 Turks to swim across the English Channel, of which four are women. She has been trained by one of the four women, Avcı, who is herself a record-breaker, having swam the Channel in 11 hours 29 minutes in 2018 – the fastest by a Turkish woman.

The first ever Turkish swimmer across the Channel was Murat Güler, who managed to complete the distance at his third attempt, on 10 August 1954.

Nesrin Olgun Arslan made history as the first Turkish female to swim the English Channel in a time of 15 hours and 47 minutes in 1979. Arslan was among those to congratulate Türkoğlu on her achievement.

Avrupa Editor Vatan Oz shares clip of Aysu Türkoğlu at start and end of her clip

Record-breakers across the Channel

The fastest person across the Channel to date is Australian Trent Grimsey, who swam in a blistering time of 6 hours and 55 minutes in 2012.

The record for the fastest swim by a woman is held by Yvetta Hlaváčová of the Czech Republic. The long-distance swimmer crossed the Channel in 7 hours 25 minutes in 2006.

The youngest male and female swimmers are both British.Samantha Druce crossed the Channel in 1983, when she was 12 years and 118 days old, while Thomas Gregory is the youngest ever swimmer at 11 years, 330 days, achieving his phenomenal feat in 1988.

Two septuagenarians hold the record for the oldest swimmers across the Channel. Britain’s Linda Ashmore was aged 71 when she did the swim in August 2018. Four years earlier, South Africa’s Otto Thaning became the oldest swimmer across the Channel aged 73 years.


Both photos, top, from Aysu Türkoğlu’s Instagram account.