19 Sep 2010

Limbless man swims English Channel

1:19 pm on 19 September 2010

A French man who lost all his limbs in an accident has swum 34 kilometres across the English Channel.

Philippe Croizon, 42, set off from Folkestone in southern England just before 8am and arrived on the French coast just before 9:30pm, propelled by his specially designed flipper-shaped prosthetic legs.

According to an official, Croizon landed on a rock at the bottom of a cliff near the Wissant coast in Calais and his support team said he immediately boarded a boat heading to Britain.

Steadying himself with the stumps of his arms, he was advancing at a constant speed in good weather, his support team said, adding that he was in good form and had been accompanied by dolphins for part of the crossing.

Croizon swims at around three kilometres per hour, slightly slower than the four or five kilometres per hour that an able-bodied athlete might achieve.

In 1994 the metalworker was hit by a 20,000 volt charge as he attempted to remove a television aerial from a house roof and an arc of current surged through him from a nearby powerline.

Doctors were forced to amputate his limbs. As he recovered in hospital he saw a television documentary about a Channel swimmer and an ambition was born.

The father of two said he wanted to complete the dare "for myself, my family and all my fellows in misfortune who have lost their taste for life".

Croizon trained for his feat for two years and last month completed a 12-hour swim along the French coast.