Limbless Frenchman Philippe Croizon hits swim landmark

Speaking last year Philippe Croizon explained what inspired him to take on the challenge

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A Frenchman who lost his limbs in an accident has completed the first part of his challenge to swim between five continents.

Philippe Croizon swam from Papua New Guinea to Indonesia with long-distance swimmer Arnaud Chassery and a local man who joined them to show his support.

Mr Croizon, who uses prosthetic limbs with flippers attached, took seven-and-a-half hours to swim the stretch.

He lost his limbs 18 years ago while adjusting a TV aerial on a roof.

"It was very, very hard," he said after the event, which involved crossing 20km (12 miles) between two points on New Guinea island which is shared between the two countries.

"It took us an hour-and-a-half more than we expected because we had to swim against the currents," he said.

He said they did not come across any sharks or jellyfish, but were joined by a Papua New Guinean man named Zet Tampa, who swam with them to show solidarity, Mr Croizon tweeted.

The swim had been postponed as Mr Croizon waited for a permit to enter Indonesia, which he received late on Wednesday.

Electrocuted

In 1994, he lost his limbs after receiving an electric charge of 20,000 volts which fused him to the metal ladder on which he was standing.

He would have been killed instantly - but another massive electric charge snapped him back to life, although he was so seriously burnt that both his arms and his legs had to be amputated.

He says he was inspired to swim while in hospital. He saw a documentary on television about an Englishwoman who had swum the English Channel earlier that year.

In 2010, he became the first limbless man to cross the 34km Channel between France and England - a feat that had only been achieved by some 900 other, able-bodied, swimmers.

The other crossings he has planned are: the shark-infested Gulf of Aqaba in Jordan to the Egyptian coast in June (the Asia to Africa stretch); the busy shipping straits between Gibraltar and Morocco in July; and the icy Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia in August.

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