How Old Can They Go? Very Old

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

We are quite confident that the record books will be completely rewritten over the next 20-30 years in terms of the healthful longevity of open water swimmers.

At this time, 73-year-old Dr. Otto Thaning (South Africa), 70-year-old Cyril Baldock (Australia) and 70-year-old Dr. Roger Allsopp (Great Britain) are the oldest people to have successfully crossed the English Channel (see Half Century Club list below).

A generation ago in 1979, 58-year-old James “Doc” Counsilman was the oldest person to have swum the English Channel. Now a 58-year-old actually seems young side when we see so many 60 and 70 year olds plan and train for a channel crossing.

But 100-year-old Mieko Nagaoka swam the 1500 short course meters in 1 hour 15 minutes at a pool meet in Japan last week. Nagaoka is the only one competing in the 100-104 age group now, but with 59,000 living centenarians in Japan, there may be others competing soon.

Nagaoka said she plans to swim until she is 105 years old.

Similarly, swimmers like Dr Thaning, Baldock and Dr Allsopp have richly active lifestyles with more plans in store for both swimming and dryland. “I believe that lifestyle is the single most significant contributor to health. More than anything else, we have the answer to health and happiness in our own hands,” said Dr Allsopp.

The five key factors include (1) staying slim, (2) smoking no cigarettes, (3) drinking not too much alcohol, (4) getting plenty of exercise, and (5) eating vegetables. These factors appear to reduce the incidence of cancers, diabetes, dementia, strokes, and heart attacks by over 50% and increase longevity by about 10 years.

It has got to be worth going for.

Of the five, exercise has to be top of the list. With regular exercise, the others follow without much effort

We wonder when the first 80-year-old will swim any channel and when an octogenarian will swim across the English Channel. We believe we will certainly see it sometime over the next 20 years.

Oldest People to Swim Across the English Channel:
1. Dr Otto Thaning (South Africa), 73 years, England-to-France, 12:52 in 2014
2. Cyril Baldock (Australia), 70 years 9 months, England-to-France, 12:45 in 2014
3. Dr Roger Allsopp (England), 70 years 4 months, England-to-France in 17:51 in 2011
4. George Brunstad (USA), 70 years 3 days, England-to-France in 15:59 in 2004
5. Donald Riddington (Australia), 68, England-to-France in 19:45 in 2013
6. Clifford Batt (Australia), 67, France-to-English in 18:37 in 1987
7. Ashby Harper (USA), 65, England-to-France in 13:52 in 1982
8. Joe Smith (England), 65, England-to-France in 14:09 in 1999
9. Dr Roger Allsopp (England), 65, England-to-France in 15:30 in 2006
10. Sue Oldham (Australia), 65, England-to-France in 17:11 in 2010
11. Michael Read (England), 63, England-to-France in 15:29 in 2004
12. Veljko Rogošić (Croatia), 63, England-to-France in 11:27 in 2004
13. Robert West (USA), 61, England-to-France in 15:35 in 1996
14. Sue Oldham (Australia), 61, England-to-France in 16:03 in 2006
15. Jean-Paul Madelenat (France), 60, England-to-France in 14:46 in 2002
16. Pat Gallant-Charette (USA), 60, England-to-France in 15:57 in 2011
17. Linda Ashmore (England), 60, England-to-France in 15:11 in 2007
18. Vijaya Claxton (USA), 59, England-to-France in 22:27 in 2007
19. James ‘Doc’ Counsilman (USA), 58, England-to-France in 13:07 in 1979
20. Mo Siegel (USA), 58, England-to-France in 14:18 in 2010
21. Barbara Held (USA), 58, England-to-France in 12:10 in 2012
22. Carol Sing (USA), 57, England-to-France in 12:32 in 1999
23. Kevin Murphy (England), 57, England-to-France in 15:14 in 2006
24. Alan Macleay (England), 57, England-to-France in 22:14 in 2006
25. Richard Haan (Czech Republic), 57, England-to-France in 14:07 in 2005

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Steven Munatones