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France - Papua New Guinea

Limbless Frenchman's epic swim delayed by paperwork

AFP PHOTO: Philippe Huguen
3 min

A limbless Frenchman who hopes to complete four challenging swims around the world, had to delay his start in Papua New Guinea on Monday after a bureaucratic hitch.

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Philippe Croizon, who lost both his arms and legs in an electrical accident in 1994, hopes to use special prostheses to aid him in the water.

He planned to leave the Pacific country's remote west to begin swimming to Indonesia's Papua province, but can now not leave until Wednesday.

Robert Iseni, who is travelling with Croizon suggested the problem could be political explaining that the authorities wanted further documentation “because we are starting in Papua New Guinea to get to Indonesia”.

He and Croizon are awaiting a response after meetings with the authorities and remain “positive”.

If the crossing is authorised, the team plan to do an initial check by boat to test the currents and distances on Tuesday, and then, weather permitting, begin the 20-25 kilometre swim to Mabo village the following day.

The swim is expected to take six hours.

Croizon, who swam the English Channel in 2010, hopes to make four swims over the next few months. He describes them as joining Oceania and Asia, Africa and Asia, Europe and Africa, and Asia to America.

In total he expects to cover about 85 kilometres and he will be in the ocean for about 45 hours.

He faces waters containing sharks, poisonous jellyfish, icy currents and cargo ships but, according to Iseni, is more concerned about the torrid heat of Papua New Guinea.

Croizon's life changed dramatically in 1994 when doctors were forced to amputate his limbs after he was hit by a 20,000-volt charge as he tried to dismantle a television antenna from a house roof.

As he recovered in hospital he saw a television documentary about a Channel swimmer and became determined to do the same. He used special artificial limbs with flippers to cross the English Channel.

He is being joined in his 2012 adventure by able-bodied long-distance swimming champion Arnaud Chassery.

If all goes well, the two men will make their second swim in the Gulf of Aqaba from Jordan to the Egyptian coast and follow that by swimming from Africa to Europe across the Strait of Gibraltar.

The most daring event will be in August when they attempt the Bering Strait separating Russia from the American continent, a trip of several kilometres in waters close to zero degrees Celsius.

 

 

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