IT’S seven o’clock in the morning and 85-year-old great-grandad Alan Frankland is ready for his daily swim in his bright blue trunks.

But this is no ordinary visit to the local swimming baths. For a start, not many swimmers have a guard of honour from the local branch of the Royal British Legion.

Resplendent in their medals, and proudly bearing their standard, they are poolside to salute their intrepid comrade, who is on a mission to swim 100 miles to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War One.

Fellow swimmers at Redcar Leisure Centre, where Alan has become something of a local celebrity, wave and say good morning as he climbs down the steps before taking the plunge into an easy breaststroke.

It all began when Eric Howden, chairman of the Redcar branch of the Royal British Legion, asked for ideas to mark 100 years since the end of the Great War.

“I’ll do a 100-mile swim,” replied Alan, the branch president, and so began his visit to the leisure centre pool every weekday. The challenge got underway last November and is scheduled to come to an end in the week leading up to Remembrance Sunday.

So far, he’s clocked up 73 miles – swimming half a mile a day (32 lengths) – and that’s despite having to take much of March and April off due to a kidney infection and a fall. With sponsorship forms sitting on the reception desk at the leisure centre, he’s on target to raise more than £1,000.

“The illness put me back a bit but I’m on schedule," he says over a cup of tea in the leisure centre café after he’s dried off. “I enjoy swimming, so I just thought I might as well do it for a good cause and people here have been so welcoming – they’ve become like an extended family.”

The extended family includes Ryan Chapman, the leisure centre’s duty manager, who says: “Alan’s just a gentleman, everyone loves him.”

A father-of-five, grandfather of 13 and great-grandfather of 15, Alan is Redcar born and bred. His dad grafted at the local steelworks before the Great Depression forced the family to move south, firstly to Gloucestershire and then Northamptonshire. Alan saw National Service in Cyprus and Suez before joining the fire service. When he retired in 1988, he and his late wife Rosemary chose to return to the familiar coastline of Redcar.

But he’s not the type to sit around twiddling his thumbs. His retirement years have been filled with raising thousands of pounds, with charity swims for the Redcar Lifeboat, Red Cross, Kidney Research UK, St John’s Ambulance, and LUPUS Uk. Since 1995, he’s covered 212 miles in the pool.

“It’s always been in his nature to think of others before himself,” says Alan’s daughter Barbara, who is also poolside to show her support. “He instinctively asks himself what he can do to help and loves meeting people and staying active.”

And Alan certainly has no intention of slowing down. Tomorrow, he’s off on a week-long visit to the war graves at Ypres and The Somme. He comes back for a week to cram in a few more miles in the pool before he returns to Belgium for a ceremony at The Menin Gate Memorial, when 1,470 standards will be unfurled in a magnificent display of remembrance.

Understandably, Alan is thinking of taking a break from the swimming pool next year.

“I think I’ll do a parachute jump,” he says.