Sarah Wylie


I was born in England but moved to South Africa at the age of 3 and my parents decided that as we were now going to be living an outdoor lifestyle , it was a good idea that I learn how to swim.

I was lucky enough to attend primary and high schools that were very strong swimming schools and because of this, had many friends locally who swum and my social life revolved around swimming, so I carried on swimming all through school and beyond. Between the ages of 8 and 14 I competed nationally (South Africa) at age group level in freestyle, breaststroke and IM events. I first qualified for South African Open Championships at the age of 14 in the 100m and 200m breaststroke and competed numerous times in these events between 1987 and 1992 and reached the semi-finals.

When I first started work, I stopped swimming for a few years but started again when, at the age of 23 and upon returning from living abroad for 8 months, I found that my neighbour had swum the English Channel. I decided that was something I really wanted to do and I made a successful crossing on 28 July 1997, age 24, in 12hrs20mins, and was the 12th South African to swim the Channel. My qualifying swim for the Channel was a 10km swim from Robben Island – Three Anchor Bay, Cape Town. The aim was to swim slowly and stay in very cold water (13c) for 3hrs and I did this swim in 2hrs 54mins.

After my Channel swim, I continued swimming and competed in various 5k, 7km,10km and 25km swims around South Africa, eventually becoming SA champion at the 25km race in 2001 and 2002 at Midmar Dam near Durban.

I moved to London in 2002 and trained by myself for many years to keep fit rather than to compete but eventually decided to compete again in 2011. I had just joined a swimming club where Andy was (and still is) coach and felt I was at a point where I was fast enough to compete and do well so I swam the Hampton Court – Kingston swim where I came 2nd. I came 2nd again in the same event in 2012.

In 2012, I was fastest woman non-wetsuit in the Brownsea Island Swim in 1hr31mins (6.5kms).

In 2013 I won Brownsea Island again. I also won the British Masters Open Water swimming championships (3kms) in 40-44 age group. I came 4th in European Championships in the same event in Eindhoven, Netherlands. I swam the Henley Classic 2.1k swim for the 1st time and achieved a top 3 finish in the performance wave.

In 2014 I won Brownsea Island again in 1hr 25mins (fastest woman’s non wetsuit swim ever), came 4th in World Masters Open Water Championships in Montreal in 40-44 age group in the 3km open water swim, and was joint 1st woman in the performance category at the Henley Classic 2.1k

In 2015 I won Brownsea Island again and came 2nd in the Henly Classic 2.1K.