WILTON, Conn. - George Brunstad is ready to take on the English Channel, even though he doesn't consider himself the most talented swimmer.
Brunstad, who turns 70 on Wednesday, will attempt to become the oldest swimmer to conquer the Channel and, if he succeeds, have his name added to the Guinness Book of World Records.
"It's taking human performance out where it hasn't been before," said Brunstad, a retired pilot from Ridgefield, Conn. "And I think it's a wonderful example of what can be done in old age when you keep active and pursue something that you really like to do."
The channel is competitive swimming's equivalent to running a marathon. It is the ultimate test of strength, mental tenacity and sheer willpower. It's 21 miles through frigid water, jellyfish and tides - a rugged swim even for the most elite athletes.
In water that averages 60 degrees or colder, there are no wet suits allowed in order to be recognized by the Channel Swimming Association - which authenticates all cross-channel swimming attempts.
For the duration of the swim, Brunstad will wear only a swimsuit, a cap, goggles and earplugs for a trip that's expected to take about 15 hours.
Brunstad hopes to make his swim in the next week, but the difficult current may force him to delay his attempt until next month.
The oldest swimmer to cross the English Channel is Bertram Clifford Batt of Australia. He was 67 years, 241 days old when he made the journey from Cap Gris-Nez to Dover in 1987.