Saudi dentist Mariam Saleh Binladen has become the first woman, and only the third person in recent history, to successfully swim 101 miles (162.5 km) of the Thames River in the United Kingdom.
Aiming to inspire more women to participate in athletics and to raise awareness about the plight of Syrian refugees, Binladen completed the endurance swim over 10 days. She began the impressive feat on June 3 and completed the swim on June 12.
"I am thrilled and very proud to be the first woman to swim 101 miles of the Thames. I wanted to show that a young woman from Saudi Arabia can achieve a lifelong ambition, whilst at the same time raise awareness to bigger causes, particularly the plight of thousands of suffering Syrian orphan refugees," Binladen said, according to PR Newswire . "I also want to encourage more women from around the world to participate in sport and show them that anything is possible."
With its strong currents, eddies and high levels of pollutions, the swim is considered one of the most dangerous and challenging. Binladen trained for nearly two years to prepare for the swim, supported by her coach Fiona Southwell.
"I have had the most amazing support from my coach Fiona, my support crew and my family in the preparation for this challenge. I would also like to thank all the people that came out and encouraged me along the way over the last 10 days - it was a great boost to be cheered on particularly when I was feeling exhausted after several days in the water."
Highlighting the mantra and motivation that kept her going throughout the difficult endurance feat, Binladen said, "It was this support and my belief that 'I aim and therefore I am' which is about beginning with the end in mind – that has got me to the finish line today."