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Channel swimmer 'angry' after wheelchair theft

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Channel swimmer 'angry' after wheelchair theft
Philippe Croizon in September 2010 after becoming the first quadruple-amputee to swim across the English Channel. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP
11:23 CEST+02:00
A French sportsman who became the first quadruple-amputee to swim across the English Channel, has been left “sad and angry”, after his custom-designed wheelchair was stolen by thieves.

Philippe Croizon, 45, was left devastated after thieves stole a trailer containing his new €24,000 wheelchair, from outside the house he was staying in on Thursday night, in Dieppe on the northern coast of France.

“It’s not just my electric wheelchair they’ve nicked,” Croizon, who made history in 2010 when he became the first quadruple amputee to swim across the English Channel,  told French daily Le Parisien on Sunday.

“They also stole my independence, and without that I’m nothing,” he added.

“They could have kept the trailer if they wanted, but at least leave me the wheelchair,” he said.

On Monday, he lamented on Twitter and in the French media, that it had taken him a year to procure the special all-terrain wheelchair, and that friends of his had helped him pay €24,000 for it.

Furthermore, Croizon took the opportunity to point out that France’s social security system reimbursed him just €3,000 for the crucial equipment, despite the fact that “on average, an electric wheelchair costs about €10,000.”

Croizon began his extraordinary endurance swimming career just two years before his Channel swim.

Between April and August 2012, Croizon once again made history when, along with long-distance swimmer Arnaud Chassery, he swam four straits between five continents.

The two completed the astonishing set of swims by crossing the Bering Strait between the US state of Alaska, and Russia.

The Frenchman braved strong currents and near-freezing temperatures in a roughly four kilometre swim between the US island of Little Diomede and Big Diomede in Russia that he said took about one hour and 20 minutes.

"This was the hardest swim of my life, with a water temperature of four degrees Celsius and strong currents," the deeply moved Croizon told AFP after reaching the Russian island.

"We made it," Croizon told AFP.

“Everything is possible, everything can be done when you have the will to go beyond yourself. We're all equal, disabled and non-disabled people on all continents," he concluded.

He had been a steel worker by trade, until he was electrocuted in March 1994 while working at his house in Saint Remy-sur-Creuse in central France.

He was forced to have both arms and legs amputated in the aftermath of the horrific accident.

The following is footage of Croizon completely his extraordinary cross-Channel swim in September 2010, from MSNBC.

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