Rob Woodhouse Becomes Australia’s First Olympic Medallist to Swim English Channel

On Saturday, Australian Olympic medallist and former GM of the International Swimming League’s London Roar, Rob Woodhouse, completed his solo English Channel swim.

He earned his bronze medal in the 400 IM at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Woodhouse adds to this accomplishment by becoming the first Australian Olympic medallist to successfully swim the English Channel.

Woodhouse sought after this demanding open water swim to challenge himself and raise funds for the Can Too Foundation that supports cancer research. 

Around 3:25 am on Saturday, Woodhouse departed from the Kent coast of England and reached France at about 2:10 pm. His time of 10 hours and 45 minutes ranks him at the 215th spot for the all-time fastest male solo swims. 

Without previous marathon swimming experience, Woodhouse committed himself to endurance swims in the ocean and cold water training to prepare for the 21-mile crossing. At the time he swam the English Channel, the water temperature stayed between 63-64 degrees Fahrenheit and wind speeds varied from 8 to 15 mph. Tidal patterns and wave heights that can reach up to 6 feet are other obstacles that English Channel swimmers are expected to overcome.

Woodhouse’s successful swim now makes him the 2nd oldest Olympian at 56 years old to complete the English Channel with 1960 Olympian Veljko Rogosic remaining 1st. Croatian/Yugoslavian Rogosic was 63 years old when he crossed the channel in 2004.

Other Olympic medalists to have crossed the English Channel include John Kinsella and Trudey Ederle. Ederle won 2 bronze medals and a gold medal at the 1924 Olympic Games, and in 1926 she became the first woman to swim across the English Channel.

Woodhouse became one of two Australian Olympic swimmers to cross the channel. He joins 1964 Olympian Linda McGill who took on the challenge a year after her Olympic debut and was inducted into the Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 2020.

For 37 years, Woodhouse was the only Australian male to ever win an Olympic medal in an IM event. Last summer at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Brendon Smith joined Woodhouse in this achievement earning a bronze medal in the 400 IM himself.

Although Woodhouse resigned from his position as GM of London Roar of the International Swimming League, he continues to be involved in professional swimming. He is an Olympic Talent Director at TLA Worldwide and is an agent of superstars like Adam Peaty and Rebecca Adlington.

He regularly trains as a Masters swimmer for North Ayrshire Swimming, a club team that he deeply sympathizes with due to the effects of COVID-19. He told West FM News, “[I’ve] seen what they’ve been through with Covid and the lack of opportunities to train and the number of kids lost to the sport… So to raise money for them, and cancer research in Australia is great.”

Woodhouse raised more than £5,500 which is equivalent to $6,500 for North Ayrshire Swimming.

Donate to Both Causes Here:

Other Olympians who have crossed the English Channel, courtesy

Greta Andersen DEN SWI 1948-52 1957/58/59/64/65 Five successful attempts (Best 13:40). France-to-England in 1957/58/59; England-to-France in 1964/65.
Miguel Arrobas POR SWI 1992 2008 England-to-France (9:30).
Bill Burgess GBR SWI/WAP 1900 1911 England-to-France (22:35). Second swimmer to cross English Channel in 1911.
Bimal Chandra IND SWI 1948 1959 France-to-England (13:50).
Edith van Dijk NED SWI 2008 2003 France-to-England (9:08)
Trudy Ederle USA SWI 1924 1926 France-to-England (14:39). First woman to swim English Channel. Third person to swim France-to-England.
Jo O-Ryeon KOR SWI 1972 1982 England-to-France (9:35).
John Kinsella USA SWI 1968-72 1979 England-to-France (9:10).
Yury Kudinov KAZ SWI 2012 2007 (7:05)
Linda McGill AUS SWI 1964 1965/1967 [3] All France-to-England (Best 9:59 (1967)). Three crossings in 1967. 9:59 at the time a record for women.
Eva Mortensen DEN SWI 1988 1996 England-to-France (10:46).
Veljko Rogošić YUG SWI 1960-64 2004 England-to-France (11:27) at the age of 63.
Gilles Rondy FRA SWI 2008 2004 England-to-France (7:54)
Arati Saha IND SWI 1952 1959 France-to-England (16:20).
Petar Stoychev BUL SWI 2000-12 2006 England-to-France (7:21); 2007 England-to-France (6:57) – first crossing under 7 hours and record time from 2007-2012.
Edward Temme GBR WAP 1928-36 1927 France-to-England and 1934 England-to-France (15:34). First swimmer to cross English channel in both ways.
Rostislav Vítek CZE SWI 2008 2009 England-to-France (7:16)

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1 year ago

Rob went on the same boat that I reserved, the Masterpiece.
This gives me more motivation to swim the channel in a few years.
His Olympic swimming years may be over but you can still do amazing things!

Go Kamminga Go
1 year ago

Isn’t he related to Emma McKeon? Or am I thinking of another person?

Gen D
Reply to  Go Kamminga Go
1 year ago

he’s her uncle iirc

Reply to  Go Kamminga Go
1 year ago

Yes, her uncle.

Paul Kingsman
1 year ago

Yeah, Rob Woodbouse. Swam with this guy and super cool guy.
Great job, Rob.

1 year ago

I await for the first American olympian medalist who crossed the English channel who can also juggle, do a back flip, and record a triple double in the local YMCA.

Reply to  monsterbasher
1 year ago
  • no diss to his amazing achievement. just thought it was funny how specific this record was.
Reply to  monsterbasher
1 year ago

I think it’s pretty amazing actually.

Reply to  monsterbasher
1 year ago

Is it that specific? Australia has a LOT of Olympic medallists who are swimmers. It is kind of surprising no one has ever done this before considering it’s a pretty well known swimming achievement.

Steven Munatones
Reply to  monsterbasher
1 year ago

Gertrude Ederle swam from France to England in 14 hours 39 minutes on August 6, 1926. At the 1924 Olympics, she won a gold medal as a part of the US 400-meter freestyle relay and won bronze medals in the 100-meter and 400-meter freestyle races.