A Bingley pensioner and former record-breaking channel swimmer is bidding to hit the record books again by becoming the oldest person to swim the English Channel.

Barry Watson, of Crossflatts, held the record for 18 years after swimming from France to England in nine hours and 35 minutes at the age of 26.

Now, at the age of 71, he is back in training and hopes to be fit enough to swim the channel once more next summer – but this time he will not have to worry about speed.


He said: “The current record for the oldest person to swim the channel is held by a 70-year-old. It would be nice to have a world record again, and this time I would be able to do it at my own leisure.

“I would love to be able to do it in 12 hours, but at my age 17 or 18 hours may be more likely!”

The current record holder is George Burnstad, of the US, who swam the channel in 2004 at the age of 70 years and four days in a time of 15 hours, 59 minutes.

Mr Watson received a B-active award from Bradford Council in 2004 on the 40th anniversary of his record-breaking swim.

He also holds records for swimming from Fleetwood to Morecambe and Lancaster to Morecambe, and has swum Windermere and Coniston lakes dozens of times.

Bradford has a heritage of Channel swim successes. Last year Liane Llewellyn, 28, of Denholme, became the first Yorkshire woman to swim across the Channel to France and back again.

She completed the 45-mile round trip to France and back in August in a total of 27 hours and 35 minutes.