A FORMER Marine is determined to make it second time lucky when he attempts to swim the Channel later this month.

Tom Gunning, of Clacton, fought tidal swells and violent winds before being forced to admit defeat last year.

Down but not out, the 56-year-old has made it his mission to get across to France this time, despite the dangerous obstacles that might befall him en route.

"There have been reports of porbeagle sharks in the Channel this year, and Portuguese men-of-war," said Tom, who lives on Arnold Road.

"But you can't think about it.

"There's a joke amongst the swimmers - we all have a song that we hum, and we have agreed that the only one that's not allowed is the Jaws theme!"

He added: "On average, only one in ten people make it across.

"Only 11 people have made it this year."

Tom says the swim can take its toll physically on those attempting the feat, to the extent that they can hallucinate or suffer from hypothermia.

And the grandfather-of-two has an added hurdle to overcome, as he suffers from a spinal osteoarthritis condition called spondylosis.

"It affects the left hand side of my body, so I can't get the same arm lift out of the water on that side," he explained.

"But my coach, Annette Rayner, has been helping me to improve my technique and work within my physical constraints."

Helping to spur him on will be the memory of his friend Simon, who died five years ago of cancer, as well as his late mother-in-law Mary.

"She was actually from Dover, so as soon as I see those white cliffs she'll be on my mind," he said.

Tom's swim, which will take place between September 18 and 24, is in aid of the Royal Marine Benevolent Fund.

If you would like to sponsor him, please call him on 01255 421876.