Chris Shapland, a 69-year-old Australian, called his Channel swim nearly spot on.
Shapland anticipated a 12-16 hour swim across the English Channel, finishing the swim in 16 hours 28 minutes supported by Leigh and Carolyn Turnbull and his partner Sally.
He joins the global list of the oldest individuals to have successfully crossed the English Channel:
1. Otto Thaning (South Africa), 73 years, E/F, 12 hours 52 minutes in 2014
2. Cyril Baldock (Australia), 70 years 9 months, E/F, 12 hours 45 minutes in 2014
3. Roger Allsopp (England), 70 years 4 months, E/F in 17 hours 51 minutes in 2011
4. George Brunstad (USA), 70 years 3 days, E/F in 15 hours 59 minutes in 2004
5. Chris Shapland (Australia), 69 years, E/F in 16 hours 28 minutes
6. Donald Riddington (Australia), 68, E/F in 19:45 in 2013
7. Clifford Batt (Australia), 67, France-to-English in 18:37 in 1987
8. Ashby Harper (USA), 65, E/F in 13:52 in 1982
9. Joe Smith (England), 65, E/F in 14:09 in 1999
10. Roger Allsopp (England), 65, E/F in 15:30 in 2006
11. Sue Oldham (Australia), 65, E/F in 17:11 in 2010
Shapland, a resident of the Sunshine Coast, set out to prove swimming is a beneficial, enjoyable, and worthwhile lifelong activity…across generations. “My grandfather was teaching swimming in Toowoomba in the late 1930s. My parents then secured the lease of the Toowoomba Municipal Baths (an old fill and drain pool) in 1947. From that date on there has always been a Shapland family member teaching or coaching swimming as a profession.”
At the age of nine, Shapland worked alongside his mother and father to help teach others to swim. In 1992, Shapland standardized his family’s teaching strategy and franchised the business as Shapland Swim Schools which has grown to 14 Brisbane-based swim schools.
“If you learn to swim correctly when you are little, you have a technique you carry with you the rest of your life. And swimming is an activity you can do way into your 80s and 90s. It’s not only healthy, it has very impact on your body, if you have the right technique.”
Shapland trained for his successful English Channel crossing in his backyard pool built with a device that pumps out a strong current that allowed him to swim for lengthy periods in the one spot and simulate the currents he encountered on his curvaceous journey to France.
He has also swum through the winter months in the Southern Hemisphere in the outdoor pool in similar temperatures to what he anticipated in the English Channel. But he understands the importance of his mindset.
“It’s more of a mental than physical battle – it’s not such a physical feat if you know how to swim properly.”
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