Lake Geneva: Blind woman completes epic Lake Geneva swim

Melanie Barratt swam the 44 miles (71km) across the largest lake in Switzerland as part of a relay team.


The 47-year-old, who can only make out shapes and bright colours in the water, used bone-conducting headphones to communicate with the rest of her team.

Ms Barratt, who won gold medals at the Atlanta and Sydney Paralympics, described the challenge as "surreal".


"It was up there with one of the most amazing experiences of my life," she said.

Ms Barratt was born with congenital toxoplasmosis, a rare condition which left her with severe visual impairment.

She was in a relay team of six swimmers, with each taking it in turns to swim for an hour in the water, including through the night.

Her team mates helped to ensure she stayed on course by talking to her through a headset while she was in the water.

Ms Barratt said she had been told by the Lake Geneva Swimming Association there was no record of a blind person having swam it before.

The group completed the swim in 27 hours, 36 minutes and 19 seconds - the fastest all-female team so far this year.

Ms Barratt, who trains at Stoney Cove in Leicestershire, said: "It's made me feel like I can achieve anything.

"I wanted to get back on the boat and start going the other way. I was kind of sad that it was over because I just loved doing it so much."

Her team mate, Natalie Prosser, said swimming in the dark made her realise the challenges Ms Barratt faces in the water.

"I couldn't see the waves, I couldn't sense anything around me and for the first time time I got a sense of what it must be like for Melanie every time she swims," Ms Prosser said.

"It's quite astonishing. She put her trust in us to keep her safe and she was our fastest swimmer, so most of that amazing time we did was down to Melanie."

The team has raised about £3,500 for charity British Blind Sport.

Ms Barratt is hoping to become the first blind woman to swim across the English Channel in the summer of 2024.

Source: BBC News