SA man becomes oldest to swim English Channel

Otto Thaning, a 73-year-old heart surgeon, studied under Dr Christiaan Barnard.

Otto Thaning, a 73-year-old South African heart surgeon, has become the oldest person to swim the English Channel. Picture: Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - Otto Thaning, a 73-year-old South African heart surgeon, has become the oldest person to swim the English Channel.

Thaning, who first swum the channel in 1994, took the title from 71-year-old Australian Cyril Baldock, who swam the channel last month.

He said the temperature of the water was the biggest problem, according to the BBC.

"The biggest problem is to maintain one's core temperature because the water is cold. We averaged 18 degrees and that was particularly helpful to me because that's reasonably warm for the channel. The channel is usually a little bit colder at this time of year."

Thaning trained under Dr Christiaan Barnard, who performed the world's first successful human-to-human heart transplant in 1967.