A British woman swimmer has died after collapsing while attempting to swim across the English Channel.
Having set off in the early hours of Sunday, married accountant Susan Taylor was just a mile off the coast of France, near Sangatte.
The 34-year-old was pulled from the water by her paramedic brother David, who then battled to save her life on the boat accompanying her attempt. The support team alerted French emergency services and requested a defibrillator.
She was airlifted by a French naval helicopter to a hospital in Boulogne-sur-Mer, where she was pronounced dead at 7.15pm on Sunday.
Speaking at the family home, Mrs Taylor’s father, 68-year-old Arthur Wright, said: “I’m devastated. I’ve lost the best person in the world. She was just wonderful.
“She had swum 30 miles and she got to the last part and that’s when it happened. That’s as much as I know.”
He said the family had celebrated Mrs Taylor’s birthday and her brother’s birthday at a restaurant last Thursday and that he last saw his daughter on Friday night.
“I saw her to say I hope it goes well and gave her a kiss,” he said.
Mr Wright said his daughter had given up her full-time job to carry out charitable work and was working part-time as an accountant.
She had also done wing-walking and a parachute jump, and was a qualified rally driver.
“She was certainly not a boring accountant,” he said.
Also on the boat was Mrs Taylor’s husband Stephen, her coach who has been training her since she was eight years old, and a support swimmer.
She had been attempting to raise money for Rainbows Hospice and Diabetes UK through her Facebook page Create A Ripple Channel Swim.
A message apparently posted by her sister on the page said: “Thank you for your messages of support. If you would like to leave a sign of respect please feel free to donate to her fund raising page.”
She set off from Samphire Hoe at around 1am on Sunday and weather conditions were reported to be relatively good when she encountered difficulties, with water temperatures of 15C.
Kevin Murphy, who is secretary of the other official body, the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation (CS&PF), oversaw Mrs Taylor’s six-hour assessment swim – which everyone attempting to swim the Channel must undertake.
He told Sky News: “She was a very nice woman, a very good swimmer and we’re all very upset.
“I got to know her while overseeing her assessment swim. It is an extreme sport but has a safety record that is second to none among extreme sports. Both the official organisations work within the strictest of conditions in terms of safety.