70-year-old oldest to swim the English Channel
Published 31/08/2011 | 08:21
A retired breast cancer surgeon achieved his ambition of becoming the oldest person to swim the English Channel today.
Roger Allsopp set off from Shakespeare Beach in Dover, Kent, at 8am yesterday and swam for 17 hours and 51 minutes to claim a new Guinness World Record.
At 70 years and four months, he beat the current record holder, George Brunstad, the uncle of Hollywood star Matt Damon.
Retired American Airlines captain Mr Brunstad, from Connecticut, swam the Channel at 70 years and four days in 15 hours and 59 minutes on August 29 2004.
Mr Allsopp, from Guernsey, had to postpone his bid several times recently because of the weather.
He said: "I do feel an immense sense of achievement and relief that I have been successful. This has been an incredible personal challenge for me and my focus has always been to help raise money for Hope for Guernsey and Wessex Medical Research, a cause that I am extremely passionate about.
"Coupled with the fact that a man of my 'grand' age can achieve such a physical and mental challenge proves that you can live younger if you keep active in mind and body.
"I've never been one to sit on my laurels. Retirement has been wonderful but I know how important it is to keep active in mind and body to live a healthy retirement and so I set myself physical challenges to ensure that I keep as fit and healthy as I can. This record-breaking swim will hopefully raise a large proportion of the £750,000 that is needed to fund cancer research. The great thing about this money is that it will all go direct to purchasing this technology."
Anna Orford, Official Guinness World Records Adjudicator, said: "To swim the English Channel is a great challenge and to do it at the mature age of 70 years is astounding! We are very pleased to congratulate Roger on this achievement and in doing so setting a new Guinness World Record."
Mr Allsopp was backed by a support crew as he made the punishing 21 nautical mile crossing.
He geared up for the challenge after being inspired by an inscription at a pub in Dover marking Mr Brunstad's cross-Channel achievement.
His attempt came 136 years after British merchant navy captain Matthew Webb became the first person to swim the Channel, doing the breaststroke from Dover to Cap Gris Nez in 21 hours, 45 minutes.
Mr Allsopp has been raising money to fund world-class medical equipment to help advance cancer research at the University of Southampton.
The money would pay for new equipment to analyse the blood of cancer patients and non-cancer patients to develop a test that would give a pre-warning of cancer.
He has received a personal pledge of £250,000 from Derek Coates, the chairman of nutritional and well-being supplement company Healthspan.
Grandfather-of-three Mr Allsopp has a record of physical challenges having run the London Marathon aged 60 and completed his first Channel swim at the age of 65 in 2006, at the time becoming the oldest Briton to do so.
Independent News Service