Seventy-year-old Cyril Baldock from Bondi has become the oldest person to swim across the English Channel from Dover to Cap Gris Nez.
How do you celebrate if you’ve just become the oldest person ever to swim across the English Channel?
If you’re Cyril Baldock from Bondi you crack open a couple of coldies.
The 70-year-old Australian on Wednesday wrote his name into the record books by becoming the oldest person to swim from Dover in England to Cap Gris Nez in France.
“I’m having a couple of beers for medicinal purposes only, to make myself sleep,” Baldock told AAP after completing the 34km feat in 12 hours and 45 minutes.
The beer tasted a lot better than the large quantities of sea water he swallowed during the choppy crossing which left him feeling “pretty crook”.
Baldock, aged 70 years and nine months, has replaced Englishman Roger Allsopp in the record books.
Allsopp was five months younger when, in 2011, he took almost 18 hours to cross the Channel.
While the Australian’s time was much quicker there was a period towards the end when Baldock wasn’t sure he would reach the French coastline.
“Around the 10-hour mark I had a bad half-hour and was starting to worry a bit,” he said after returning to Dover on the boat that had earlier escorted him to Cap Gris Nez.
“The arms were really sore, and I didn’t seem to be making much ground, but I kicked on again.”
Baldock knew how tough the swim would be having previously crossed the Channel in 1985 as a 41-year-old. Back then the feat took him 10 hours and 44 minutes.
The strict rules of long-distance swimming meant Baldock wasn’t wearing a wetsuit on Wednesday but rather regular speedos, a single swimming cap and goggles.
There was no shark cage either.
The Bondi local has the record for now but it could be short-lived with Brisbane woman Irene Keel, 73, also planning an attempt this week.
Baldock, impressively, will be cheering her on.
“The great part of it is, if she did it, Australians would then have the oldest man and the oldest woman,” he said.
“I’ll have held the oldest person for some time – that was the goal and that’s done – so I really hope she does (succeed).”
Australian Trent Grimsey holds the record for the fastest Channel crossing having completed the marathon in six hours 55 minutes flat in 2012.
If Keel makes it to France it’s unlikely Baldock will try and reclaim the title in three or fours years’ time.
“I’ve hung my cap and goggles up as far as I’m concerned,” he said on Wednesday.
“You can’t go on forever doing that sort of thing – I’m nearly 71.”
Baldock was fulfilling a decades-old promise to his former coach Des Renford by completing the crossing.
He was also raising money for cancer research via everydayhero.com.au/event/cyrilsswim.