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Madam Butterfly On Mad Manhattan Mission

Apr 13, 2011  - Craig Lord

Next time you're getting tired on that tough 'fly set, think of Dr Julie Bradshaw, from Britain. She's 47 - and this summer she's intent on testing sanity itself with a round-Manhattan Island swim - 28.5 miles - on butterfly. She will follow that up by swimming 3 miles down the Humber River in England - also on butterfly - and would be the first to do so.

Bradshaw, from Blackpool in the north-west of England, is known as the "Lady of the Lakes" courtesy of the records she has set while traversing various water courses of the Lake District not far from her home. She entered the Guinness Book of World Records when she swam butterfly across the English Channel in 2002 in 14 hours 18 minutes.

Her training will inspire some members of Britain's elite team at Loughborough University tomorrow when she warms up in their training pool from 7.30am to 3.30pm, doubtless much of it non-stop and butterfly. 

Bradshaw, who lives and trains in Loughborough, where she is a part time lecturer at the university, said: "I know to some people it may seem completely nuts to swim butterfly for so long. While it is a very hard stroke to keep going with for most, I personally don’t find it much harder than front crawl. But it does take some long hours of training to get to that stage. I don't know why I keep trying what seems like the impossible. I suppose it's just in my blood. And I just keep looking for new challenges. Manhattan is my latest, and I'm sure it won’t be my last."

In the waters of Manhattan Bradshaw might soak in a little of the spirit of the place as summed up by author Tom Davies in 1979: "She has become a wicked and wild bitch in her old age has Manhattan, but there is still no sensation in the world quite like walking her sidewalks. Great surges of energy sweep all around you; the air fizzes like champagne, while always there is a nervous edge of fear and whispered distant promises of sudden violence."