The Truth About Catherine Middleton's Trek Across The English Channel

When Catherine Middleton and Prince William were spotted holding hands on a ski trip in March 2004, the moment was confirmation for many that the romance rumors about the pair were true, per Express U.K. Despite taking a short break from their relationship, the two ended up announcing their engagement in 2010, via People. With their wedding — which was watched by over 160 million people — Middleton became the Duchess of Cambridge (per Express U.K.). She has since become solidified as a part of the U.K. royal family's legacy, and she's made hundreds of official appearances around the world, including a recent — and somewhat messy — visit to the Caribbean.

One thing that's been noted about the duchess' appearances is how happy she is to step in and play sports if the occasion presents itself, showing off her competitive athletic spirit. The 40-year-old played tennis and field hockey growing up, and through the years, she's been spotted playing street hockey in heels, playing volleyball a few months after her first son was born, and even land yachting in Scotland, per Town & Country. She's even patron of the Rugby Football League and Rugby Football Union. However, there was one sporting event she trained for but wasn't able to finish.

Kate Middleton trained for months for the dragon boat race

In April 2007, Kate Middleton joined the Chinese dragon boat crew of The Sisterhood, a group of women raising money for charity. The Sisterhood were training to be the first all-woman team to cross the English Channel in a race against an all-male crew, calling themselves The Brotherhood (per The Telegraph). The team, with Middleton at the tiller, was spotted training on the Thames, and as the girlfriend of the second in line to the throne, she was noticed. In August, she withdrew from the team less than three weeks before the planned event because the palace reportedly felt her involvement was a "media distraction." The official line used was that her high-profile presence could present a threat to the other members on the team, per Daily Mail U.K.

No one on the team seemed too happy with things, including Middleton apparently. One of the team members said "Kate's really miffed. [...] She was our helmsman, very strong and very sporty. It's a huge loss," via Daily Mail U.K. There was another potential reason, beyond safety concerns, that reportedly prompted the request to have the Duchess of Cambridge leave the team.

Her team set a world record crossing the English Channel

As a way to raise more money for charity, the women on The Sisterhood crew were planning to do a photoshoot that would involve them posing in not much more than body paint for the "Art of Sport" calendar, and Kate Middleton allegedly contemplated going ahead with it before the royal family advised against it, per Latin Times.

Despite Middleton not being on the team, the race still went ahead as planned. The Sisterhood crew didn't win — coming in 12 minutes behind the men's crew with a time of three hours and 42 minutes — but they did set a world record. They became the first all-female dragon boat team to cross the 21-mile English Channel, per Your Local Guardian. The event, called "Beauty vs Brawn" by some, raised £100,000 for charity at the time, and the boat was later auctioned off (via PR NewsWire).

The duchess has stayed active out on the water through the years, competing against Prince William in a dragon boat race in 2011 in Canada — he won — and in a sailing event in Auckland in 2014 — which she won — and a rowing race in Germany in 2017, which William won again (per Vanity Fair).