Australian Irene Keel, 73, has failed in her attempt to become the oldest person to swim across the English Channel.

A Brisbane grandmother has failed in her attempt to become the oldest person to swim the English Channel after choppy conditions caused her to swallow seawater and suffer from asthma.

Irene Keel, just a month shy of turning 74, had hoped to swim from Dover in England to Cap Gris Nez in France on Monday.

She was attempting to regain the age record for Australia after a South African on the weekend took the title from Bondi lifesaver Cyril Baldock.

But it wasn’t to be.

“The wind and chop that was meant to settle down didn’t and Irene swallowed a fair chunk of the ocean,” Keel’s coach, Charmian Frend, told AAP in a statement.

“This in turn set off her asthma which caused her to struggle with breathing.

“We tried various things to settle it down but in those conditions none of it worked so we called it a day at about 4.5 hours (in).”

Frend said Keel was okay and in good spirits back in Dover.

The 73-year-old, who was raising money for motor neurone disease research, will now return to Australia without attempting the crossing again.

That means the age record will remain in the hands of Cape Town’s Otto Thaning who on Saturday took just under 13 hours to cross the Channel.

The heart surgeon said he wanted to show what older people could do if they took care of their health.