A man with no arms and no legs was today celebrating becoming the first to swim across the English Channel – arriving a full 10 hours ahead of schedule.
Philippe Croizon, a 42-year-old who lost all of his limbs in a freak accident, achieved the incredible feat using specially designed prosthetic flippers.
The Frenchman set off from Folkestone, Kent, at 8am on Saturday morning and reached Wissant, near Calais, just before 9.30pm.
‘I did it! It’s mad!’ were Philippe’s first words on arrival, saying he wanted to become ‘a representative of someone overcoming his restrictions.
‘I’ve done this for myself, for my family, and for all those who have suffered tragedy and lost their taste for life,’ added the father-of-two.
He swam at a constant 2mph – only slightly slower than an able bodies swimmer – in relatively good weather, and was accompanied by dolphins for part of the crossing.
Philippe had been expected to take some 24 hours to finish the 21 mile swim, but in fact did it in just over 13 hours.
On arrival he was telephoned by Nadine Morano, France’s families minister, who praised his ‘exceptional athletic performance’.