Bondi man will try to become oldest man to swim across English Channel


Bondi man Cyril Baldock was a sickly child prone to asthma but now at the age of 70 he is preparing to "have a crack" at becoming the oldest man to swim across the English Channel.

At seventy years and nine months old, Mr Baldock is five months older than the current record holder, Roger Allsopp from Guernsey, England.

"I swam it 29 years ago and at that time my mentor was the famous channel swimmer, Des Renford, who swam it nineteen times," Mr Baldock told SBS.

Under the tuition of long-distance swimming legend Des Renford, he swam from France to England in just 10 hours and 44 minutes.

That was 1985, when Des Renford was preparing to become the oldest swimmer to ever cross the Channel, once he reached 60.

"But Des very soon after that had a very mild heart attack and he wasn't allowed to swim, although he kept swimming all his life he just wasn't allowed to do the long stuff," Mr Baldock said.

Cyril sensed an opportunity - part dare, part tribute.

"I said, well, look, you can't have a crack at it, I will when I get to that age and little did I know that the age crept up and it's 70 and four months now and I've just reached the stage where I can have a crack at it."

So what's his secret?

"It is all a matter of logistics and timing, especially feeding which you have got to practice as well to make sure that your stomach works to the food schedule that you have set yourself," Mr Baldock explains.

"You also have got to know what speed you can go comfortable for about 10 or 11 hours so that the pilot can judge when you leave England to land at the nearest point."

The planned route this time is from Dover to Cap Gris Nez, in France.

Mr Baldock stresses that monitoring the English Channel tides are vital to the strategy.

He plans to swim between August 17th and 23rd, when a Neap tide is forecast.

A Neap tide occurs when there is least amount of water in the current, between high and low tide.

"Last time I did swim it on a spring tide but it was tough and I was a lot younger then. I wouldn't think I could make it on a spring tide these days, even with perfect weather because I covered 53 kilometres that day."

And it is for a good cause.

"I'm raising money for a fantastic charity, the Melanoma Institute of Australia, which having been a surf- life saver for 57 of my 70 years, you know, a lot of my mates have had that and one actually has it at the moment."

He says work by organisations like the Melanoma Institute has helped Australian learn to be sun smart, something he and his twenty-something friends knew nothing about.

"Back in those days we didn't slip-slop-slap and that sort of stuff. We didn't know, think or care about that so it's a charity that is fairly dear to my heart so I am raising a fair bit of money for them."

Source SBS

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