Swimmer Becomes Oldest to Cross English Channel

Makes good on a promise to his coach

When it comes to this record holder, everything old is new again. (Sydney Morning Herald/Google CC)
Photo: Sydney Morning Herald/Google CC

It's been 10 years since a swimmer set a record in the English Channel. That changed Wednesday, when 70-year-old Australian swimmer Cyril Baldock earned the title of oldest person to swim the 21.1 miles from England to France. 

Baldock began his swim off the coast of England and arrived at Cap Gris Nez in France 12 hours and 45 minutes later. Upon completion, he immediately posted on Twitter: "I made it!" and announced his new record title. "I haven't had that much fun in years," he told the Australian.

Baldock, a lifetime member of the Bondi Swim Club, is no newbie when it comes to the challenges of the English Channel. He had completed the swim once before, at age 41, in 1985. But this time around, he completed the journey to honor his former coach, Des Renford, whose lifetime goal of crossing the channel as the oldest person was halted after he suffered a heart attack. It was his promise to fulfill Renford's dream that kept Baldock going, even when the going got tough.

"There's no way that I'd attempt the English Channel just to swim it a second time. I've done it. I was only the fifth Australian to do it back then, but to be the oldest, it's an enormous challenge. It's something that very few people can ever achieve," he told ABC. "It's helped my fitness. I've got five grandkids, and I'm able to do things with them that a lot of 70-year-olds couldn't do."

More Adventure