Armless, Legless Man Swims English Channel: How Did Philippe Croizon Do It?

Philippe Croizon AP

Philippe Croizon
Quadruple amputee Philippe Croizon completed the swim 10 hours ahead of schedule. He used prostheses equipped with fins. (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire via AP)

Updated Sept. 20, 2010, 3:05 p.m. (EST)

(CBS/AP) In a bid to inspire those who have "lost their taste for life," a man whose arms and legs were amputated has completed a swim across the English Channel.

The 42-year-old Frenchman, Philippe Croizon, had expected the tough crossing to take up to 24 hours, but he finished in only 13 and one-half hours.

"I've done it," he said upon reaching the French coastline near Calais, the Daily Mail reported. "It's mad. I've done this for myself, for my family, and for all those who have suffered tragedy and lost their taste for life."

In 1994, Croizon lost his arms and legs after suffering an electric shock as he stood on a ladder adjusting his television antenna, which touched a power line.

He used specially designed leg prostheses, which end in flippers, to propel himself through the water, helped by the crawl motion of his truncated upper arms. He used a snorkel to breathe.

It wasn't Croizon's first high-profile athletic feat since the accident. In 2007, he made headlines for parachuting from an airplane.

Update: On Monday, Croizon said he plans to cross from Europe to Africa in the Strait of Gibraltar. Don't bet against him.

  • David W Freeman

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