Every morning we get up early and drive 15 minutes south to Dover Harbor where both the swimmers hoping to swim the English Channel and the few who have swim laps. Just tagging along with my camera I listen and watch and hear stories. Lots of swimmers are there as relay teams, few are soloists, and some wear fancy jackets and hats plastered with their sponsor’s logos. It seems to me, however, that the most serious are just regular people without logos attached.
One guy who had been waiting for his chance to swim was Roger Allsopp. He wears a cap that bears the name of his swim club back home in Guernsey. He swam the channel 5 years ago at the age of 65. He was the oldest Brit on record to have made this accomplishment. Now, he’s here again, at the age of 70 years and 4 months. If he accomplished this swim he’d be the oldest ever, from anywhere. He told us, “I’m trying to be the oldest person to swim the English Channel. But if I have to wait much longer I’m going to be too old!” Roger is a retired breast cancer surgeon and he is using his swim to raise money for state of the art equipment for his hospital. To date he had raised $170,000. He and Doug gravitated toward each other and I suspect that if they lived by each other they’d be friends.
I bet they’ll always be friends anyway. Because now they belong to the same club. Early this morning Roger finished his swim. He ran into complications that made us wonder all night long how he was doing. His boat did not have a GPS tracking system like Doug’s. He got very close to Cap Gris Nez and the tide got a hold of him forcing him to swim in place for about 6 hours before the tide let him reach across to France. His time was 17 hours and 53 minutes. Yup, you’re reading this right. A 70 year old swam 18 hours and crossed the English Channel. In all he swam a total of 40 miles.
We leave here in three days and I wonder if one of these mornings Roger will make it back down to Dover Harbor. If he does I’ll be there with my camera. And I bet the cheers will be heard all the way over in France.
Oh, and those five support boats we saw with five swimmers a few days ago when we took a ferry boat to France? Not one of them made it.