The Future Is Now After 80 Years

The Future Is Now After 80 Years

Courtesy of Cape Long Distance Swimming Association, Cape Town, South Africa. Photos courtesy of Simon Pocock.

Dr. Otto Thaning, the oldest person to cross the English Channel at the age of 73*, has enjoyed long and illustrious careers in the open water and medical world.

Today, he outdid himself – yet again – with a 2 hour 52 minute from Robben Island to Bloubergstrand in Cape Town, South Africa. At 80 years old and 3 weeks, the South African cardic surgeon endured the 16°C water for 7.4 km, accompanied by pace swimmer Martin Goodman and with escort pilot Roger Finch and Lewis Pugh on his escort boat.

Pugh commented, “We watched Otto grind out a Robben Island crossing today. He turned 80 on March 13th. It is just incredible to watch him do it; he is such an efficient swimmer. Our ability to withstand cold diminishes with age. What makes his crossing even more astonishing is that he operates during the week. Sometimes, he comes to training and says, ‘Long day, Lewis. I had to stand on my feet operating for six hours.”

Photo of 80-year-old Dr. Otto Thaning with head down by Simon Pocock en route from Robben Island.
Photo of Dr. Otto Thaning with pace swimmer Martin Goodman (in white cap) by Simon Pocock with Lewis Pugh on boat.

Dr. Thaning has long showed us how to live well, and he keep accomplishing different things, both on dryland and in the open water,” observed Steven Munatones. “But he doesn’t just talk and give advice – he continues to set the bar for the rest of us. Dr. Thaning is the epitome of his profound guidance and a widely respected role model for the entire swimming community.

Last year in August, Dr. Thaning spoke with Sally Minty-Gravett, MBE about longevity, venous return, and the benefits of cold-water swimming on WOWSA Live with International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame chairman Ned Denison and Steven Munatones.

* Dr. Thaning swam across the English Channel in September 2014 at the age of 73 years 6 months in 12 hours 52 minutes which is 41 minute faster than the average crossing time of 13 hours 33 minutes and nearly as fast as the average relay crossing time of 12 hours 46 minutes.

Photo of Dr. Otto Thaning with pace swimmer Martin Goodman by Simon Pocock.
Martin Goodman and Dr. Otto Thaning walking up on dryland. Photo by Ryan Rapaport.
Dr. Otto Thaning after finish. Photo by Ryan Rapaport.
Martin Goodman and Dr. Otto Thaning off to their next adventure. Photo by Ryan Rapaport.

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Steven Munatones