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British Channel swimmer dies off French coast

Donar Reiskoffer/CC

A British man died while trying to swim the English Channel early Sunday morning. The man, in his 40s, was just 3.5 kilometres off the French coast.

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French authorities have not named the man, who left from Dover and was taken ill as he approached the Cap Gris-Nez between Boulogne and Calais.

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Assistants accompanying him on a boat, the Pace Arrow, notified emergency services at 2.50am and a helicopter with a medical team on board and a lifeboat were dispatched.

Efforts to save his life failed, official said Sunday.

“Swimming the Channel is strictly forbidden in French territorial waters … because of the danger in a zone where maritime traffic is particularly heavy and where weather conditions can sometimes be difficult,” the French official statement said.

The ban has not stopped the British Channel Swimming Association offering to support for Olympic athletes who wish to swim the Channel during this year’s Games.

Captain Matthew Webb made the first observed and recorded unassisted swim across the Channel in 1875. About 1,000 people have done so since.

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