Philippe Croizon

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Philippe Croizon in 2015.

Philippe Croizon (born 1968) is a French athlete and the first quadruple amputee to swim across the English Channel and to run the Rally Dakar.[1]


His amputations were required due to a severe electric shock accident which occurred in March 1994.[2] At the time, Croizon was employed as a steelworker at the foundry of Poitou,[3] 26 years old and married, with one son; his wife was expecting a second child.[3] At his home in Saint-Rémy-sur-Creuse, Vienne, while standing on a metal ladder on the roof to work on a television antenna, Croizon received a severe electric shock from a high-voltage power line which earthed (grounded) through the ladder,[2][3] to which he became adhered. Twenty minutes passed before a neighbour could raise the alarm. He was hospitalized in Tours, where doctors removed his left arm above the elbow, his right arm below the elbow, then his right leg above the knee. Surgeons had thought that the left leg could be saved, but when that also required removal, Croizon reported feeling "despair".[3]

English Channel Challenge[edit]


During his recuperation in the hospital, he saw a television programme about a female channel-swimmer, who Croizon said inspired him.[2][4] He began a regimen of swimming, training for over five hours per day with the Maritime Gendarmerie, the French marine police, in the sea near La Rochelle.[3] He experimented with different prosthetic limbs designed for swimming, with fins attached to the stumps of his legs.[3] One set of specially designed prosthetics cost 12,000, and are made from carbon and titanium.[4][5]

He wrote a book entitled J'ai décidé de vivre (I Decided to Live), using a speech-to-text computer system.[2] He also made a parachute jump.[2]

Croizon's preparations for the channel-swim attempt took 35 hours per week for two years; throughout the training period, he received letters of support from national politicians, including then-President of France Nicolas Sarkozy.[6] It was during this period that he completed a swim from Noirmoutier to Pornic in less than five hours.[6]


On Saturday, 18 September 2010, at the age of 42, he swam across the English Channel in less than 14 hours.[7] He set off from Folkestone at 06:45, arriving at Cap Gris Nez at 20:13, a distance of 21 miles (34 km).[8][9]

After the crossing, he reported that he had felt pain, but was confident that he would finish.[1]

Intercontinental Straits Swimming Challenge[edit]

In April 2012, Croizon announced a new project, to swim four straits separating five continents, in which he would be accompanied by long-distance swimmer Arnaud Chassery.[10][11] The planned trips included Australia to Asia, across the Red Sea (linking Asia and Africa), the Straits of Gibraltar (linking Africa and Europe), and the Bering Strait (linking Asia and America).[10]

Croizon completed the first swim, linking Australia and Asia, in May 2012, when he swam 20 km (12 mi) from Papua New Guinea to Indonesia in seven-and-a-half hours, accompanied by Chassery and a local man, Papua New Guinean Zet Tampa, who swam with them in support. Their course was along New Guinea Island, shared by both countries.[12][13]

In June, he crossed the Red Sea from Egypt to Jordan, over a distance of 19 km (12 mi) in about 5 hours.[14]

Croizon completed his Straits of Gibraltar crossing in July, from Tarifa, Spain, over 14 km (9 mi), to land near the city of Tangier, Morocco. He completed the journey with a friend in "just over five hours."[15]

His planned August Bering Strait swim from Little Diomede Island, across the international date line, to Russian Big Diomede, was to occur a week after the 25th anniversary of Lynne Cox's historic crossing on 7 August 1987. Croizon's training regimens included temperature conditioning for the below 40-degree (F) water by swimming in ice-melt mountain lake water, and ice water baths.[16] The August 13 dawn attempt was delayed, then canceled, due a storm arriving early.[17] When a lull in the bad weather arrived on 17 August, the team's start was delayed by high waves until the late afternoon (3 pm local time).[18] Croizon and Arnaud completed the 4.3 km (2.7 miles) swim across the Bering Strait in one hour and 20 minutes.[18][19] Dense fog and strong currents added time and distance to the trip in 4 degree C (39 F) water. After crossing the International date line, they continued for a few hundred yards to Great Diomede island in Russian waters without official permission.[20]


Croizon has a customised electric wheelchair that cost €24,000 to build. In August 2013 it was stolen, but recovered a few days later after much publicity in the media and on Twitter.[21][22]


In 2017 he participated in the Dakar with a modified buggy, finishing in the 48th place.


  • Croizon, Philippe (2006), J’ai décidé de vivre [I decided to live] (in French), Paris: Jean-Claude Gawsewitch, ISBN 978-2-350-13073-6


  1. ^ a b "Limbless man completes Channel swim". London: UK: Express. 19 September 2010. Retrieved 2017-02-24.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Amputé des 4 membres, il va traverser la Manche à la nage", Le Télégramme (in French), 20 November 2009
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Handisport. défi. Amputé des quatre membres, il veut traverser la Manche à la nage", La Dépêche (in French), 23 November 2009, retrieved 2010-09-19
  4. ^ a b Virginia Enee (11 July 2010). "Philippe Croizon, premier amputé à traverser la Manche à la nage ?". La Voix du Nord (in French). Retrieved 2010-09-19.
  5. ^ Fabienne Beranger (20 August 2010). "Un aller-retour réussi pour Philippe Croizon". France 3 Ouest. Retrieved 2010-09-19.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b Laura Roberts (10 September 2010). "Limbless man, Philippe Croizon, to swim the English Channel". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2010-09-19.
  7. ^ "Limbless French swimmer makes Channel crossing". TVNZ. 19 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-19.
  8. ^ "Frenchman with amputated limbs completes Channel swim". BBC News. 19 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-19.
  9. ^ John Lichfield (20 September 2010). "Four amputations, 13 hours – one extraordinary swim". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2010-09-19.
  10. ^ a b Telfer, Julia (24 April 2012), "Athlete Without Limbs to Swim Around The World", IBTimes TV, archived from the original on 30 April 2012, retrieved 2012-05-17
  11. ^ "Les Nageurs" [The Swimmers]. Nager au-delà des frontières (in French). Archived from the original on 20 May 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  12. ^ Hofman, Hélène (May 16, 2012). "Limbless Frenchman Philippe Croizon starts swim from PNG to Indonesia". Global Post.
  13. ^ "Limbless Frenchman Philippe Croizon hits swim landmark", BBC News, 17 May 2012, retrieved 2012-05-17
  14. ^ "Limbless man swims Red Sea". London: UK: The Independent. 23 June 2012.
  15. ^ "Quadruple amputee swims from Spain to Morocco". London: UK: The Guardian. Associated Press (Dalia). 12 July 2012.
  16. ^ Anderson, Ben (August 9, 2012). "Limbless Frenchman plans swim from Alaska to Russia". Alaska Dispatch.
  17. ^ "Nage annulée pour le moment 13/08/2012, à 17h06"(Paris) ("Swim canceled for now"). "Suivez les traversÉes en temps (Follow the crossings in real time). (In French, tr. to English)
  18. ^ a b "Victoire d'Arnaud et Philippe! 18/08/2012, à 08h03"(Paris) ("Philippe and Arnaud victory!") "Suivez les traversÉes en temps (Follow the crossings in real time). (In French, tr. to English)
  19. ^ "Limbless swimmer Philippe Croizon links continents". 18 August 2012.
  20. ^ "Philippe Croizon: l'exploit entre deux îles furtives du détroit de Béring". (in French). Saturday 18 August 2012 0903. (Engl. tr.)
  21. ^ Withnall, Adam (13 August 2013). "Channel-crossing quadruple amputee Philippe Croizon has stolen wheelchair returned". The Independent. London. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  22. ^ "Limbless swimmer finds stolen wheelchair". The Local. Retrieved 13 August 2013.

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