Paul "Hoffy" Hopfensperger (born 1963) is a British (English) open water swimmer, trekker and charity fundraiser based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. He has raised in excess of £50,000 for charity through swimming, trekking and other events around the world.
He was the club captain of the former Bury St Edmunds Swimming Club (now West Suffolk Swimming Club) on three occasions between 1978 and 1981, a Suffolk County swimmer and has represented Great Britain at professional marathon swimming competitions around the world.
English Channel Swims
Hopfensperger has personally completed two solo crossings of the English Channel in 2007 and 2008 and one relay in 2010 as part of the six-person 'Team Iryna International' English Channel relay team.
His times include his 2007 England-to-France crossing in 13 hours 52 minutes (under the auspices of the Channel Swimming Association Limited), his 2008 England-to-France crossing in 13 hours 03 minutes (under the auspices of the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation) and his 2010 England-to-France crossing with 'Team Iryna International', a six-person relay in 12 hours 44 minutes (under the auspices of the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation).
He has also played an important part as a crew member for four successful solo English Channel crossings, making seven successful crossings out of seven Lorraine Verghese (GB - 2007), Sylvain Estadieu (France - 2009), Donal Buckley (Ireland - 2010) and Patrick Thomas (South Africa - 2012). He also gave mental & stroke coaching and regular sports massage for over one and a half years leading up to Louise Stratford's successful 2013 English Channel swim.
English Channel TV Appearances & Radio Broadcasts
Hopfensperger's 2007 English Channel swim was filmed for TV by Dangerous Films Limited and was screened in Episode 1 of the Discovery Channel's documentary Human Body: Strength.
BBC Radio Suffolk - Live from The English Channel
The 10 July 2007 swim was also relayed live from the English Channel by an on board reporter, Jon Wright for BBC Radio Suffolk in the UK. Updates were broadcast throughout the day for the duration of the 13 hour 52 minute swim.
On July 20, 2007 he appeared on the BBC Radio Suffolk "Leslie Dolphin Show" to be interviewed about the swim and the charity fundraising efforts to date.
BBC Television - Eggheads - September 24, 2010
On Monday August 17, 2009, Hopfensperger captained a team of 6 English Channel swimmers called "Channel Buoys and Gulls" with a total of 42 English Channel swims between them, on a BBC television quiz show called "Eggheads". The renowned Kevin Murphy, King of The English Channel, with 34 channel swims, was the substitute member with the main team consisting of Hopfensperger (Great Britain - 2 x channel swims at the time), Megan Forbes (Great Britain - 1 x channel swim), Mike Cross (Great Britain - 3 x channel swims), Sophie Rutenbar (USA - 1 x channel swim), Jim Boucher (Northern Ireland - 1 x channel swim). The program was screened on national TV on September 24, 2010.
FINA Open Water Grand Prix
In 2008, at the age of 45, Hopfensperger represented his country in two FINA Open Water Grand Prix competitions in Serbia (Jarak-Šabac) and Mexico (Sumidero Canyon) as one of its oldest competitors in recent times, and the oldest ever from Great Britain. Hopfensperger finished the 2008 season ranked number 57 in the world by FINA in this global professional marathon swimming series.
Current available records, for the oldest swimmers to compete in this series are as follows:-
1. Irene Van Der Laan (Netherlands). Born 1960. Last swim in 2011. Age 51.
2. Gerassimos Pefanis (Greece). Born 1958. Last swim - Jarak-Šabac, Serbia 2008. Age 50.
3. Yuko Matsuzaki (Japan). Born 1962. Last swim in 2010. Age 48.
4. Paul Hopfensperger (Great Britain). Born 1963. Last swim - Sumidero Canyon, Mexico, 2008. Age 45.
British Long Distance Swimming Association
Hopfensperger is a member of The British Long Distance Swimming Association (BLDSA) and in 2008 won the 4.5km Lynn Regis Championship taking both the Senior Men and Veterans (45 years and over) titles at the same time. At the time, it was believed to be the first time in the 52 year history of the BLDSA for this to happen, causing confusion for the judges who did not initially give him the winners trophy. This was rectified some weeks later after a BLDSA committee meeting decided to award him both titles.
He was the 2007 over 40's winner of the Dover Regatta 2,000 Metres race. The race, held in Dover Harbour, England, is part of the annual regatta weekend celebrations.