BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – A former Bridgeport resident swam across the English Channel on Monday, July 11.

Laura Goodwin has been competitive swimming since she was six years old, starting with the “Bridgeport Summer League Swim Team.” Since she was nine years old, Goodwin had always wanted to make the 21-mile swim. Britannica says that the English Channel is a “narrow arm of the Atlantic Ocean” that separates the southern coast of England from the northern coast of France.

This swim took her 10 hours and 44 minutes to complete.

Almost five hours into the swim (Courtesy: Katy Morris)

She started training for the channel swim three years ago alongside 13 and 14-year-olds. On weekdays, she would train for two hours in the pool, while on weekends, she would go to lakes or the ocean to do open water training. As time went on, her times got longer and longer. Originally, Goodwin was supposed to do the swim last year, but she pushed it back another year due to COVID-19.

Swimming the channel sparked her interest when she was nine, which is when they said it was possible, and it captured her imagination. “Who wouldn’t want to swim from one country to another country?” she said, adding that it never left her mind. She loves long-distance swimming and cold water.

Goodwin originally grew up in Bridgeport, West Virginia. Eventually, she was looking for a college and ended up moving to Virginia to attend Washington and Lee University. When graduate school came around, she moved to California, which is when she started open water swimming.

Home is North Carolina for Laura Goodwin, but she and her family have been living in England since March. She has always wanted to swim the Channel and live abroad with her children, so it was the perfect opportunity to put the dreams together.

A few of the jellyfish stings Laura Goodwin received (Courtesy: Laura Goodwin)

After Laura Goodwin finished the cold, jellyfish-infested swim with no wet suit, it was understandable that she felt some sort of emotion for achieving the accomplishment. “Your mind is in such a strange place at that time,” she said. “You’ve been in the water alone with very little sensory input for almost 11 hours. The first thought in my head was “I feel great!” I didn’t know how I would feel physically, if they’d kind of have to scrape me back into the boat, but I felt like I could’ve turned around.”

However, Goodwin also mentioned that she was ready to drink some more chocolate milk. Chocolate milk is a common recovery drink after heavy lifting, and while she said that it is “unusual” for a swimmer, she just can not get enough of it.

One of Laura Goodwin’s suitcases was filled with her chocolate milk (Courtesy: Laura Goodwin)

She truly believes that she was made for the swim. “I think that if you can, if you can find out what you really want, and go after it, that can be some, that can be the most satisfying thing in life.”

As a swim coach, she has already slipped back into coach mode. She mentioned that she is not a superhero, she is just a normal person; and this journey shows that if you want to achieve something, just take it step by step and be willing to go around or through obstacles and be persistent with it. If you do that, she said that you can achieve it.

Standing in front of the “Optimist” boat that followed Goodwin during her swim journey (Courtesy: Sue Mchugh)

After a few good nights of sleep, Goodwin said everything is finally sinking in. She feels incredibly thankful for everyone who helped her get here, saying that it takes a village to help make a swim like this happen. “It has been so fulfilling and satisfying,” she added.

Laura Goodwin blogged this entire journey, down to what she did to train for this swim. If interested in reading, you can find more information here.