Oldies But Goodies In The English Channel

Oldies But Goodies In The English Channel

Julian Critchlow’s database of successful English Channel swimmers showed an interesting statistic: there have been dozens of individuals over the age of 50 who have completed the English Channel.

These adventurers prove that some things do get better with age.

The oldest of the group is the venerable George Brunstad, the youthful-minded 70-year-old who crossed in 2004 in 15 hours and 39 minutes. A former pilot and one of the numerous residents of Connecticut who seem to be draw to the Channel, he remarked upon his finish, “I am tired, but this is it. I’ve got the world record and I feel wonderful. When I arrived I just said ‘Praise the Lord’, stood on the beach and raised my arms in a V sign.”

The Great 50 List includes the following swimmers:

1. George Brunstad (USA), 70, England-to-France in 15:59 in 2004
2. Clifford Batts (Australia), 67, France-to-English in 18:37 in 1987
3. Ashby Harper (USA), 65, E/F in 13:52 in 1982
4. Roger Allsopp (England), 65, E/F in 15:30 in 2006
5. Sue (Australia), 65, E/F in 17:11 in 2010
6. Michael Read (England), 63, E/F in 15:29 in 2004
7. Veljko Rogosic (Croatia), 63, E/F in 11:27 in 2004
8. Robert West (USA), 61, E/F in 15:35 in 1996
9. Jean-Paul Madelenat (France), 60, E/F in 14:46 in 2002
10. Linda Ashmore (England), 60, E/F in 15:11 in 2007
11. Vijaya Claxton (USA), 59, E/F in 22:27 in 2007
12. James (Doc) Counsilman (USA), 58, E/F in 13:07
13. Carol Sing (USA), 57, E/F in 12:32 in 1999
14. Kevin Murphy (England), 57, E/F in 15:14 in 2006
15. Alan Macleay (England), 57, E/F in 22:14 in 2006
16. Peter Urrea (USA), 56, E/F in 14:38 in 1996
17. Kevin Murphy (England), 56, E/F in 13:35 in 2005
18. Duke Dahlin (USA), 55, E/F in 14:37 in 2003
19. Christopher Blakeslee (USA), 54, E/F in 14:44 in 2004
20. Michael Miller (USA), 54, E/F in 16:10 in 2008
21. Otto Thaning (South Africa), 53, E/F in 10:29 in 1994
22. Klaus Stutzer (Germany), 53, E/F in 14:09 in 1997
23. Morris Finkelstein (USA), 53, E/F in 15:21 in 2003
24. Peter Jurzynski (USA), 53, E/F in 17:18 in 2004
25. Bill Hoehn (USA), 53, E/F in 15:53 in 2004
26. Hugh Tucker (South Africa), 53, E/F in 13:37 in 2004
27. Tom Hecker (USA), 53, E/F in 15:21 in 2005
28. Steven Smith (England), 53, E/F in 14:28 in 2005
29. Henry Eckstein (USA), 52, E/F in 14:24 in 2000
30. Peter Jurzynski (USA), 52, E/F in 14:57 in 2003
31. Dennis Dressel (USA), 52, E/F in 12:08 in 2003
32. Jorge Rikarday (Mexico), 52, E/F in 20:24 in 2003
33. Tim Cheesman (England), 52, E/F in 15:07 in 2007
34. Kevin Murphy (England), 51, E/F in 14:29 in 2000
35. Peter Jurzynski (USA), 51, E/F in 17:08 in 2002
36. Anne Cleveland (USA), 51, E/F in 11:33 in 2007
37. Nancy Steadman-Martin (USA), 50, E/F in 11:20 in 2004
38. James Fitzpatrick (USA), 50, E/F in 14:32 in 2005
39. Frank Chalmers (Scotland), 50, E/F in 16:48 in 2005
40. Timothy Cheesman (England), 50, E/F in 16:14 in 2005
41. Terry O’Brien (Australia), 50, E/F in 15:50 in 2006
42. Antonio Argüelles (Mexico), 50, E/F in 12:54 in 2009

We were initially struck how few women (Linda Ashmore, Vijaya Claxton, Carol Sing, Anne Cleveland and Nancy Steadman-Martin) were included in this list given that women outnumber men in all population groups in nearly every country in the world.

But like the significant increase in women in the sport of marathon running, as the opportunities for older women to participate in endurance sports increases, we imagine that this list will swing to include many more females over the next 20-30 years.

In a sign of this future, we note that 51% of the 14,000+ individuals who participate in the Great Swims in England are female – and we suspect some of these individuals will be cracking this list over time.

Photo of George Brunstad by Gareth Fuller.

Copyright © 2010 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones