Limbless Frenchman Begins Epic World Swim
A Frenchman who lost his limbs in an electrical accident swam from Papua New Guinea to Indonesia in strong winds and currents Thursday, finishing the first stretch in a mission to swim between five continents.
Philippe Croizon, 43, who swam the English Channel in 2010, left Papua New Guinea's fishing village of Wutung in the early morning to begin what he has billed as the Oceania-Asia stretch of his challenge.
After swimming 20 kilometers (12 miles) over almost eight hours, he arrived at 1 pm local time (0400 GMT) in the village of Pasar Skow in Indonesia's Papua province, which shares a border with Papua New Guinea.
"It was very, very hard," Croizon told AFP trying to catch his breath on the grey and black beach lined with coconut trees in Pasar Skow.
"It took us an hour and a half more than we expected because we had to swim against the currents," he said, adding the total time was seven hours, 35 minutes and 35 seconds.
More than 100 locals came to see the Frenchman, who swam with the French long-distance swimmer Arnaud Chassery and a man from Papua New Guinea named Zet Tampa, who said he wanted to join the swim to show solidarity.
"We swam slowly because we did not have the chance to do a practice run," Croizon said.
The swim had been postponed as Croizon waited for a permit to enter Indonesia, which he received on Wednesday night.
"We've done the first stretch. Now we still have three to go."
Croizon, who swam the English Channel in 2010, has set out on a new aquatic journey across the globe to show there is no difference between disabled and able-bodied people, and convey a message of peace and solidarity.
The pair will swim next between Asia and Africa, then Africa and Europe, and lastly between Europe and North America.