Limbless Frenchman bids to swim Channel

LILLE, France, Sept 18, 2010 (AFP) - A Frenchman who lost all his limbs in an electrical accident was swimming across the Channel on Saturday, a challenge he has been preparing for two years, his support team said.

Philippe Croizon, 42, set off from Folkestone in southern England just before 8:00 am (0600 GMT) and expected to take around 24 hours to swim back to France propelled by his specially designed prosthetic legs in the shape of flippers.

Croizon (AFP file)

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 (two miles) per hour, slightly slower than the four or five kilometres per hour that an able-bodied athlete might achieve.

He was expected to make landfall between Boulogne and Calais.

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 between the ports of Noirmoutier and Pornic on France's Atlantic coast.

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