Kayaker Paul Wycherley sets record for Channel crossing

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Sport in Dover

British sprint canoeist Paul Wycherley kayaked across the English Channel in a new record time on Sunday, beating the mark set by his coach Ian Wynne.

Wynne, a canoeing bronze medallist at the Athens Olympics in 2004, crossed in two hours and 59 minutes in 2007.

But Wycherley took 31 minutes off Wynne's time in ideal conditions, finishing in two hours and 28 minutes.

"I got quite sore near the end but I'm chuffed to bits and I got a really good time," the 25-year-old told BBC Sport.

"I was just so lucky with the conditions. We chose the weekend about a year ago and it could have gone any way.

"It's October so you could expect wind and a lot of swell, but we had a really calm day.

"There were a couple of lumpy bits when the ferries went past but, if anything, they broke up the monotony of it all."

Wynne, 37, helped Wycherley to break his record by relaying data and advice from a support boat during the crossing.

The Guildford paddler raised in excess of £100,000 for charity with his expedition, setting off from Dover at 0935 BST and arriving at France's Cap Gris Nez just after midday.

Wycherley normally races over a one kilometre distance in the men's K1 (single-person kayak) sprint canoeing category, and is aiming to compete at next year's London Olympics.

He is locked in a tussle with Tim Brabants, the defending Olympic champion from the Beijing Games in 2008, to be the one kayaker GB Canoeing is allowed to enter for the K1 1000m race at London 2012.

Wycherley beat Brabants, 34, in a race-off in July to earn the right to race for Britain at the 2011 World Championships.

But the younger man's subsequent failure to reach the final at those Worlds has reopened the battle for selection, with the final decision likely to be made after the first or second World Cup race in spring 2012.

"A few people asked me if [crossing the Channel] is what I needed to be doing before 2012, and quite simply the answer is yes," said Wycherley.

"Rather than having a month off in October [sprint canoeing's off-season], I wanted a break from sprint canoeing but I still wanted to stay in shape, and this was a really good way of doing that while raising money for two brilliant charities.

"We've got a really big task ahead of ourselves, building up for London 2012 and going for the K1 spot.

"Now it's a case of really focusing in, drawing up a plan for the rest of the year and sticking to it to make sure we're on target."

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