AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
PASAR SKOW: A Frenchman who lost his limbs in an accident braved strong winds and currents to swim from Papua New Guinea to Indonesia today, in the first stretch of a mission to swim between five continents.
Philippe Croizon, 43, who uses prosthetic limbs with flippers attached, took seven and a half hours to make his way from the Papua New Guinea village of Wutung to Pasar Skow in Indonesia’s Papua province.
The 20-kilometre journey, between two points on New Guinea island which is shared between the two countries, was billed as the Oceania-Asia stretch of his challenge which involves three more stages.
“It was very, very hard,” Croizon said as he tried to catch his breath after arriving 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, as more than 100 curious villagers gathered on the beach to greet him.
In the first of four challenging swims around the world, Croizon swam alongside the French long-distance swimmer Arnaud Chassery and a Papua New Guinean man named Zet Tampa who joined in voluntarily to show solidarity.
“We swam slowly because we did not have the chance to do a practice run,” Croizon said.
His spokesman Robert Iseni, who is making a documentary of the expedition, said that although the swim went well, the men confronted some obstacles.
“They swam against the wind at the beginning and then in strong currents. But they didn’t have any unfortunate encounters with the jellyfish or sharks,” he said.
The swim had been postponed as the adventurer waited for a permit to enter Indonesia, which he received late yesterday.
“We’ve done the first stretch. Now we still have three to go,” he said.