Friday 23 March 2018

Limbless man in historic Channel swim

John Lichfield in Paris

TWO years ago, Philippe Croizon could barely swim at all, but now the 42-year-old French quadruple amputee has become the first limbless person to swim the English Channel.

"I did it. I'm so happy. I can't believe it. It's crazy," he said after swimming the 21 miles from Folkestone in England to the French coast.

Mr Croizon's legs and lower arms were amputated after he suffered a calamitous electric shock while removing a television aerial from a roof in 1994 when it hit a power line.

As one of a series of challenges that he set himself to "prove that I am still alive", he learned to swim using a snorkel and prosthetic legs with built-in flippers.

He had already made news in 2007 by parachuting from an aircraft. To complete his Channel swim, he overcame not just his own handicap and the treacherous Channel tides and currents, but the last-minute withdrawal of his support boat.

Another vessel agreed to accompany him on Saturday.

Mr Croizon had expected to spend up to 24 hours in the water. The average Channel swimmer takes around eight hours.

After reaching a cruising speed of two miles an hour, and benefiting from favourable weather conditions, he completed the crossing in 13-and-a-half hours.

He was accompanied by three dolphins at one point.

"We took that as a sign of good luck," said his father, Gerard Croizon, who was part of his support team.

French families minister, Nadine Morano, paid tribute to Mr Croizon's "courage, tenacity and determination" yesterday.

"By this act of heroism, Philippe Croizon has proved that nothing is impossible for mankind as long as we believe in ourselves," she said. (© Independent News Services)

Irish Independent

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