A FRENCH father-of-two who swam across the Channel 16 years after losing all his limbs in an electrical accident said Sunday that he was “the happiest man alive.”
Philippe Croizon, a 42-year-old former metalworker, said he had performed his feat to inspire all those “who think life is nothing but suffering.”
He set off from Folkestone in southern England just before 8:00am on Saturday, and arrived on the French coast near Wissant just before 9:30pm, propelled by his specially designed flipper-shaped prosthetic legs.
Steadying himself with the stumps of his arms, Croizon kept up a constant speed in good weather and was accompanied by wild dolphins for part of the 33-kilometre crossing, his support team said.
“For a while, I didn’t realise what I’d done. It was only that night, when I went to bed, that suddenly I burst out laughing, and told myself, ‘You did it!’.”
In 1994 Croizon 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.
“I was on my hospital bed, they’d just finished cutting off my last leg. You can imagine how that felt. And then I saw a television documentary on a female swimmer who crossed the Channel,” he explained.
“There and then, I asked myself, ‘Why not me one day?’,” he said.
Croizon trained for two years and last month completed a 12-hour swim between the ports of Noirmoutier and Pornic on France’s Atlantic coast, but his final Channel crossing was much faster than he had anticipated.
“At one point I told myself, ‘Woah, slow down, you’ll never get there if you try to keep up this speed’. I wanted to slow down, but I couldn’t. The motor was running,” he said, adding that he had expected to be at sea for 24 hours.
“It was huge. I was in the zone. I was inside my head. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone,” he said, declaring that his next long-distance challenge will be to swim between Europe and Africa.
He may have been in the zone but when he arrived in France, he was, as is every Frenchmans will, stinking of garlic.
When he got out of the water, Philippe got out of the water he could hardly speak. No, he wasn’t too knackered, it was because he had a mouthful of garlic…
I had no idea what it meant to be French…perhaps I’m understanding now.
Buford Balony says: If this was a woman, she’d be in trouble once Sel found out she was armless.