AN inspirational father and former Monmouth School student braved shark-infested waters and hours in ice-cold ponds to train for his swim across the English Channel after being inspired by his autistic son Oscar.

44-year-old Miles Tollan spent a year training ahead of his challenge to swim the English Channel in 15 hours and 20 minutes earlier this month.

Mr Tollan, who now lives in Australia, took on the challenge to raise money for charity Giant Steps in Sydney which provides education and support for children with autism.

The father-of-three, who attended Monmouth School between 1981 and 1988, has raised about £4,000 for the cause.

He said: “I wanted to take on a big challenge to mark a point in my own life - I've done lots of things for my own benefit, and now I wanted to set an example that hopefully my kids will want to follow when the time is right.”

For the last year Miles trained for six days and swam a total of 35km a week in preparation for the channel crossing.

He said: ““I have a group of friends I swim with and we tend to use shark-repelling shields when we go more than 500m off the shore.

“The English Channel is obviously colder than the Pacific Ocean where I swim, and to acclimatise to the cold I needed to train in cold water including an ice-cold pool at home.

“It took me over three hours to cover the final stretch, which is why the Channel is often described as 'the longest swim of your life, followed by the hardest'."

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