British woman dies trying to swim the Channel

LONDON - A British woman died trying to swim across the Channel between Britain and France over the weekend, police and the Foreign Office said on Monday.

Susan Taylor, who was reportedly in her 30s, died in hospital in Boulogne-sur-Mer on the northern French coast on Sunday night after trying to complete a charity challenge.

"We are aware of the death of a British national in Boulogne on July 14, 2013. We are providing consular assistance to the family at this difficult time," the Foreign Office said.

French authorities said the boat accompanying Taylor, the "Pathfinder", called coastguards at about 5.30pm (1530 GMT) on Sunday and asked for a defibrillator.

A helicopter was dispatched to collect the swimmer and take her to hospital, where she died at about 7:15pm (1715 GMT), the local maritime prefect's office said.

According to her online charity fundraising page, Taylor had raised almost £3,000 ($4,500, 3,500 euros) for the Rainbows children's hospice, and a further £2,200 for Diabetes UK.

Donations continued to pour in after her death. On the website, Taylor described swimming the Channel, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, as akin to scaling Everest.

"Less than 1,000 people have completed the 21-mile (34-kilometre) cross-Channel swim, whereas over 3,000 have conquered the world's tallest mountain," she wrote.

"Only one in ten people who train for the Channel actually complete it."

Kevin Murphy, secretary of the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, trained with Taylor earlier this year in Majorca, where she completed a six-hour swim in cold water.

"It is incredibly sad," he said, adding: "She had been our friend on the beach training in Dover and everyone's cut up about it because she was such a lovely, nice lady."