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Weather tests the patience of Channel-swimming pensioner

Retired surgeon Roger Allsopp is hoping to set a new record as the oldest person to swim the Channel.

Retired surgeon Roger Allsopp is hoping to set a new record as the oldest person to swim the Channel.

A 70-year-old retired breast cancer surgeon was yesterday waiting for the right weather as he bids to become the oldest person to swim across the English Channel.

Roger Allsopp, from Guernsey, was hoping to set off from Shakespeare Beach in Dover, Kent, sometime today and to reach Cap Gris Nez in northern France within 16 hours.

Aged 70 years and four months, he aims to beat the current record holder, George Brunstad, who swam the Channel aged 70 years and four days in 15 hours and 59 minutes in August 2004.

As he prepared himself in Dover yesterday, Mr Allsopp said: “I’m having mixed feelings because I have been hanging around for so long, but I’m very keen to get going. It is just this final hurdle with the weather to overcome because everything else is in place.”

Mr Allsopp will be backed by a support crew as he makes the 21 nautical mile crossing to Cap Gris Nez, the closest point of France to the UK. He has been gearing up for the challenge after being inspired by an inscription at a pub in Dover marking Mr Brunstad’s cross-Channel achievement.

His attempt will be made 136 years after British merchant navy captain Matthew Webb became the first person to swim the Channel, doing the breast stroke from Dover to Cap Gris Nez in 21 hours, 45 minutes.

Mr Allsopp is motivated by a personal crusade to raise £750,000 for medical equipment to help advance cancer research at the University of Southampton.

The cash would pay for equipment to analyse blood to develop a test that would give a warning of cancer.

 

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