On Sunday, Dr. Otto Thaning became the oldest person, at the age of 72, to complete a Robben Island crossing. His time of 2 hours 19 minutes across the 7 km expanse of cold water from Robben Island to Blouberg Beach was faster than his 2007 time of 2 hours 37 minutes at the age of 66.

As a heart surgeon, his cardiovascular system seems as healthy as ever. “My swimming interest has always been a passion shared with my involvement in heart surgery. I was fortunate to have been trained by Chris Barnard.

Besides training for two Oceans Seven swims – the English Channel in 10 hours 29 minutes at the age of 53 years in 1994 and the Strait of Gibraltar in 4 hours at the age of 63 years in 2004 – Dr. Thaning has done the Robben Island crossing several times and worked in the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town. Dr. Barnard performed the world’s first successful human-to-human heart transplant in 1967.

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