German sets record time for swim across the Channel

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The Independent Online

Christof Wandratsch, 38, from Burghausen in south-east Germany, broke the record with a crossing between Dover and Calais, the narrowest point between England and France.

He swam approximately 21 miles (32km) across the English Channel yesterday in seven hours and three minutes, according to the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation. He trimmed 14 minutes off the previous record set in 1994. Members of the federation were adjudicating on board an accompanying boat.

Mr Wandratsch has been trying for years to fulfil his dream of beating the world record for swimming across one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. His last attempt was in September 2004. In 2003, he won the 25km swim at the German Championships.

Before taking to the water, Mr Wandratsch said: "This time it came around very quickly. At 8 o'clock I got the okay that I could start at 11am the same day."

He was optimistic that the wind would help him with the challenge, but he was also worried about the early August rains. "Unfortunately there is no sun, only rain," he said yesterday. "This will be particularly hard for my support team."

Captain Matthew Webb inspired many to attempt the cross-channel challenge when 130 years ago he became the first person to swim the stretch of water. It took him 21 hours and 45 minutes between Dover and Cape Gris Nez, France. Since then, there have been more than 6,200 attempts to swim from England to France.