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Two American women swim English channel

DOVER, England -- Two American women swam the fogbound English channel from Dover to the French coast Saturday, taking about 11 hours to make the 21-mile crossing.

Margaret Broenniman, 21, and Maura Fitzpatrick, 20, both students at Smith College in Massachusetts, reached the French shore at Cap Griz Nez near Calais around 4:20 p.m., said Audrey Scott, secretary of the Channel Swiming Association.

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'They both arrived within about 10 minutes of each other,' Mrs. Scott said. 'I don't know who got there first yet, the radio contact was too bad. We will have to wait until our observer gets back to England,' she said.

'I think they've both done a very good swim,' said Mrs Scott. 'The water was at high tide and they've had fog most of the way.'

The swim took the two friends about 11 hours 25 minutes. They set off from Dover's Shakespeare beach at 4:55 a.m.

It was the culmination of an 18-month ambition and a four-day wait at the coast for the right weather conditions.

Broenniman, of Chevy Chase, Md., and Fitzpatrick, of Westwood, Mass., set off swimming abreast a few hundred yards apart, each accompanied by helpers and observers aboard two small fishing vessels.

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Before they set off, they predicted they would complete the swim in 11 or 12 hours.

Both women are on the swimming team at Smith College in North Hampton, Mass. Ms. Broenniman is a co-captain in the team. Both will be seniors this year.

'We have been on the English coast waiting for this swim for four days,' Ms. Broenniman said before setting off. 'Thick fog has kept us on dry land for the last two days. But we are both feeling very fit and are very hopeful.'

'We have been looking forward to this day for nearly 18 months, since a student at our college suggested we should try to tackle the English Channel, which is regarded as the mecca of marathon swimming,' Ms. Fitzpatrick said.

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