A Cannock swimmer is taking the plunge and celebrating his 60th birthday with his biggest challenge yet - joining a team swimming the Channel for charity.
Garry Seghers, Qualifications Development Manager at STA, the Walsall-based swimming teaching association, will join a team of six swimmers in September for the relay race from Dover to Cap Gris Nez in France in aid of Diabetes UK.
Garry, who is 60 in April, will have to swim in the Channel in one hour shifts - without wearing a protective wetsuit - and will then have to sit alongside his fellow swimmers for five hours in an accompanying boat before plunging into the freezing waters again.
The challenge to swim the 22-mile stretch of water is expected to take 15 hours.
"I know I can swim for one hour easily, but doing it in cold water without a wetsuit, which is what the official rules for Channel swims require, is a somewhat different challenge," he said.
"I'm 60 this year and I wanted to do something a bit different to mark the milestone. This is ideal because it combines my love of open water swimming with a great cause."
Garry, who undertook his first open water swimming event in Barbados in 1991, has completed a number of open water challenges over the years. Last year alone his swims included the Great North Swim in Windermere; VO2 Sea Swim at Bournemouth; ChillSwim the length of Coniston Water; 10k swim at Eton Dorney rowing centre; and a 5k Swim the Island sea swim in Spotorno Italy.
"I love open water swimming; there is such a tremendous feeling of freedom with this type of swimming that you don't get when doing laps in a swimming baths," he said. "You have to approach it completely differently in terms of navigating and doing an efficient stroke to conserve energy and it is more difficult to get warm.
"The cold will be the biggest issue but I am training hard and hope that I can overcome that."
Garry has set up a Just Giving page for anyone who would like to sponsor him. Details can be found at: http://www.justgiving.com/Garry-Seghers3