Young & Old make Open Water history in the English Channel

History was made on both ends of the age spectrum this week, as Otto Thaning became the oldest person to swim the English Channel, while Charlotte Samuels became the youngest ever to complete the open water swimming “Triple Crown.”

Thaning is 73 years old, a heart surgeon from South Africa, and completed the 34 km (21 mile) swim on Sunday. He takes the title of “oldest English Channel swimmer” from 70-year-old Australian Cyril Baldock, who swam the channel just a few months ago.

Thaning said his biggest concern was the water temperature, but was helped by a Channel that was warmer than it typically is in September, the New York Daily News reports.

Meanwhile, the 16-year-old Samuels completed her swim of the English Channel yesterday, finishing in 20 hours and 44 minutes. The New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that Samuels becomes the youngest person to complete open water’s “Triple Crown,” which includes the Channel, the Catalina Channel in California, and a swim around the island of Manhattan. The previous record was held by an 18-year-old from Australia.

Samuels plans to extend her Open Water streak, with a goal of completing the “Ocean’s Seven,” a parallel to the “Seven Summits” challenge for mountain climbers. The Ocean’s Seven includes the English Channel and the Catalina Channel, plus the North Channel between Great Britain and Ireland, the Cook Strait in New Zealand, the Molokai Channel in Hawaii, Japan’s Tsugaru Strait and the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Europe and Africa.

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About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career of almost two decades wasn’t enough for this Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for, covering swimming at every level. He’s an …

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