British Columbia

Kelowna teen becomes youngest British Columbian to swim English Channel

Kelowna teen Emily Epp has become the youngest British Columbian to swim across the English Channel.

17-year-old completed the swim in under 12 hours and raised $43K for Canuck Place

Emily Epp spent months preparing to swim the English Channel by training in B.C.'s coastal waters. She completed the crossing on July 15 in under 12 hours. (CBC/Facebook)

Kelowna teen Emily Epp has become the youngest British Columbian to swim across the English Channel.

On July 15, Epp slipped into the channel and left the Cliffs of Dover in her rear view. She arrived at Cap Gris Nez in France 11 hours and 57 minutes later, making her the 43rd Canadian to conquer the challenge since 1951, according to the Channel Swimming Association.

"It was such a beautiful swim," she told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

"I had some friends, I had seals follow me around, a porpoise, which is great. You don't get that in Okanagan Lake."

Epp's coach, mentor and friend Brent Hobbs completed the swim in 2008. After hearing his story, she decided that one day she would also make the famous crossing.

The teen spent months training in Okanagan Lake, as well as with her competitive swim team.

But last month marked the first time she ever swam more than 6.5 hours continuously. In preparation for the channel, she swam the perimeter of Bowen Island on June 17, completing it in 11 hours.

During the 11 hour swim around Bowen Island Epp suffered from nausea but her mother says there was 'never any doubt' she would keep going. (Cheryl Epp)

The reality of her goal didn't set in until she arrived in England, she said, but the sight of the water didn't throw her confidence.

"When I had met the boat driver and was looking at France … I couldn't really believe it," she said.

"It was there that I knew I would make it."

Epp's recent accomplishments gave her the opportunity to raise $43,000 for the Canuck Place Children's Hospice where her younger sister, Elan, is cared for.

Epp, shown here with her open water coaches, Mike Stamhuis (left) and Brent Hobbs (right), sold these T-shirts as a fundraising item for Canuck Place. (Cheryl Epp)

"My sister was admitted there when she was very young … and they've done just wonders for every kid that has been there," Epp said.

"So I thought I'd better do something in return just to show them how much I appreciate them and every family that's there."

Epp is spending a few more days in the United Kingdom with her parents to explore London before returning to B.C. for a well-deserved summer off.

To hear the full interview listen to media below:

With files from the CBC's On The Coast


  • A previous version of this story said Emily Epp is the youngest person from Canada to swim the English Channel. In fact, she is the youngest person in British Columbia to do so.
    Jul 23, 2017 3:41 PM PT