Limbless man begins world swim

A limbless Frenchman planning to make four challenging swims

around the world finally got his epic journey underway Thursday

after sorting out paperwork problems in Papua New Guinea.

Philippe Croizon, who lost both his arms and legs in an

electrical accident in 1994, entered the water in the Pacific

country’s remote west at 6:00am local time on his way to

Indonesia’s Papua province.

It followed several days of delays in getting official

permission for the 15-mile swim to Pasar Skow village, near Mabo,

with the aid of special prostheses.

“He’s in the water now and feeling very good,” his spokesman

Robert Iseni, who is traveling on the support vessel, said.

“We finally got the permission on Wednesday and he is very, very

happy. The conditions are good, there is no wind and he is going

slowly but surely.”

The swim — which started from Wutung in PNG and which Croizon

says represents the crossing between Oceania and Asia — was

expected to take six to seven hours.

Croizon swam the English Channel in 2010 and hopes to make four

swims over the next few months, joining Oceania and Asia, Africa

and Asia, Europe and Africa, and Asia to America.

In total he expects to cover about 53 miles, meaning he will be

in the ocean for about 45 hours, facing sharks, poisonous

jellyfish, icy currents and cargo ships.

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 his ambition was born.

He used special artificial limbs with flippers to cross the

English Channel and 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 spectacular event will be in August when they attempt

the Bering Strait separating Russia from the American continent —

a trip of several miles in waters close to 32F.