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A 16-year-old from New Hampshire successfully swam across the English Channel, completing a 33-mile (53-kilometer) swim by reaching a sandy beach in France after darkness fell.

Vera Rivard, of Springfield, left Dover in the United Kingdom around 9:30 a.m. and arrived on a beach near Calais, France, just before midnight on Tuesday.

She crossed “roly-poly” waves in 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) water, accompanied by a pilot boat affiliated with the Channel Swimming Association. Her mother and younger sister were aboard as her crew.

“I tend to get a little happier when the waves get a little choppy,” Rivard told The Associated Press. “I kind of get a little spark in my eye.”

The swim took her more than 14 hours, and she is the second American to cross the channel this year, the Valley News reported.

“As she leaves the beach in England for her English Channel attempt, I will be the proudest parent ever! Not if she finishes, not how fast she swims, but that she was brave enough to start,” Rivard’s mother, Darcie DeBlois-Rivard, wrote beforehand on Facebook.

Rivard completed her first 1-mile (1.6-kilometer) open water swim at the age of 10 in Vermont, and worked up to a 25-mile (40-kilometer) swim that crossed the Canadian border two years ago, she said.

After that, she booked a slot to swim the English Channel and has been training ever since in both the United States and Ireland, she said.

She said she was just happy to get into the water at the beach in Dover.

“I wasn’t sure it was going to happen because of everything that is going on right now with the pandemic, and I was just so happy to get in the water at that point,” Rivard said.

In compliance with the Channel Swimming Association rules, Rivard did not leave the water or touch anyone or anything that floats for the duration of the swim. But she stopped to tread water every 45 minutes to eat an energy gel and powdered energy drink.

As the sun set, she said an almost full moon rose above the horizon.

“I knew I was either going to start in the dark or end in the dark because there aren’t enough hours in the day, so I put a light on the back of my goggles so the boat can see me more easily,” she said.

Rivard’s swim cost her family around $15,000, about a third of which was covered by donations and sponsorships, the Valley News reported. Rivard and her family quarantined for two weeks before her swim in Dover.

She completed a long-distance swim around Manhattan island in July and hopes to swim a third major open water course to Santa Catalina Island off California — the third in a “triple crown” of long distance swims — at some point in the future.

News Source: Associated Press


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MIDTERM SHOCK: Democrats Take Lead Over Republicans in Major Polling Average For First Time This Year

L:Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images, R: Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

After months of trailing in the polls, Democrats have taken the lead over Republicans in the influential FiveThirtyEight generic congressional polling average — the first time they’ve led since last November.

President Joe Biden was riding high for the first few months of his presidency, and so were his party’s congressional prospects. But Biden’s approval crossed below 50 percent for the first time almost a year ago amid the Delta coronavirus surge, the Afghanistan withdrawal, and the beginnings of stubborn inflation — and that approval has yet to recover.

Democrats managed to remain ahead of Republicans until November, when the GOP took over the lead in 538’s average of generic congressional ballot polls.

But as of this week, after tying Republicans the previous week, Democrats have taken a slim lead over the GOP at 43.8% to 43.5% as of this weekend.

Republicans still hold a narrow 00.1 percent lead in the RealClearPolitics average, which is weighted differently than 538’s average. Democrats also last led in the RCP average in early November 2021.

There are a number of factors at play that could be responsible for the apparent surge in Democratic fortunes. Republicans held a 2.6 point lead in the average when the draft Supreme Court decision that would strike down Roe v. Wade was leaked to the press, and became an immediate rallying cry for the 2022 midterms.

When  the Supreme Court actually did effectively overturn Roe v. Wade with a 5-4 decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Republicans led by 2.3 percent.

Since then, though, the issue has only heated up further, with concerns about Justice Clarence Thomas‘ remarks in a concurring opinion, in which he said the court should “reconsider” rights in other cases, and cited Griswold v. Connecticut (1965, right of married persons to obtain contraceptives), Lawrence v. Texas (2003, right to engage in private, consensual sexual acts), and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015, right to marriage equality).

At the same time, gas prices — a major driver of inflation — have fallen sharply, the January 6 committee has put on a series of blockbuster hearings, Attorney General Merrick Garland’s investigation into January 6 has heated up, and Biden and the Democrats have notched a series of legislative wins.

But there’s no telling what effect the fallout from the FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-lago resort home will have on the midterms. The generic ballot is only one bellwether that might not measure a rallying effect on turnout.

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