Roger Allsopp, 70, and a retired surgeon from Guernsey, is swimming the Channel in August 2011. The feat will not only put him into the record books, but it’ll also raise funds for a specialist cancer-research unit at Southampton University.
On retirement five years ago, Roger’s surgical career was swapped for one of fundraising, completing both the 2006 London Marathon and swimming the Channel.
After his successful swim, he visited the White Horse Pub in Dover – a shrine to Channel swimming, whose walls are covered with the signatures of all those to complete the challenge. He spotted the name George Brunstad – an American who swam the channel aged 70 and four days to become the oldest person to complete the 21-mile swim. And so the ambition was hatched to beat that record.
Roger’s swim is scheduled for the week of the 20th August. His support team and pilot boat will be on standby that week to set off as soon as conditions are favourable with a likely start time of 1.30am. Training to date has taken place in warmer seas abroad over the winter, and more recently in Jersey and Guernsey.
Last month Roger took part in the ASA South-West open-water championships in Weymouth, scooping a respectable second place in the over-50 10k race with a time of 3:25hrs. At the end of this month he has a 7hr qualifying swim in Dover under the watchful eye of the so-called ‘Channel General’, Freda Streeter, who trains aspiring Channel swimmers each summer and is the mother of Alison Streeter, MBE, who holds the record for the most solo crossings of the Channel (43).
With the only equipment allowed being a pair of trunks, goggles, swim hat and some grease, Roger’s biggest challenge is overcoming the water temperature. The greatest change for the 70 year-old since his last crossing is that he struggles to maintain the bodymass to keep him warm in the water. But he remains calm and confident about August’s swim and his equally ambitious £750,000 fundraising target.