Gina Harden achieved her lifelong goal of swimming the English Channel. She got in the water on Sunday morning 0400 GMT (11 p.m. on Saturday night in Brevard County) and 16 ½ hours and 33-miles later she arrived in France.
WATCH:Gina Harden, a resident of Satellite Beach for the past five years, retired with the rank of Captain and her military career was nothing short of spectacular. In 1982, she became only the seventh female diver in U.S. Navy history and at one time she was Officer in Charge of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Forward Headquarters in Afghanistan.
BREVARD COUNTY • SATELLITE BEACH, FLORIDA – Satellite Beach resident and retired U.S. Navy Captain Gina Harden, 61, achieved her childhood dream of swimming the English Channel on July 18 as she began her swim early on a Sunday morning, and 16½ hours and 33-miles later, she triumphantly arrived in France.
To accomplished the grueling crossing, Harden had to endure formidable tidal currents and 60-degree water temperatures.
The English Channel is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France and links to the southern part of the North Sea by the Strait of Dover at its northeastern end. It is the busiest shipping area in the world.
When she was a ten-year-old girl standing with her father and sister looking out over the English Channel, Harden turned to her dad and said, “One day I am going to swim to the other side.”
In a pre-swim interview with Steve Wilson, Harden said after her 35-year career in the U.S. Navy, the time has come.
Harden, a resident of Satellite Beach for the past five years, retired with the rank of Captain and her military career was nothing short of spectacular.
In 1982, she became only the seventh female diver in U.S. Navy history and at one time she was Officer in Charge of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Forward Headquarters in Afghanistan.
In the latter stages of her military career, she was mobilized as Chief of Operations for the Joint Operations Center at COMUSCENTCOM.
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Her personal awards include the Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Navy Commendation Medal (two awards), and the Navy Achievement Medal (two awards).
Harden said it has taken two years of hard training to prepare for the swim and the Channel Swimming Association has strict guidelines that she had to follow.
Some of those regulations include staying in the water the entire time, not being able to touch anyone, or not being able to touch the boat that will be trailing her.
“All I was allowed to have was a swim cap, bathing suit, earplugs and goggles,” said Harden
Swimming the English Channel has been a life-long dream for me,” said Harden. “It has been a long time getting here, and I am really thankful for the opportunity to do it.”