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Achieved the June 26, 2011

Monte-Cristo Challenge, swim from Château d'If to plage du Grand Roucas

  • Discipline : Aquatics sport > Swimming
  • Disability : Amputations des deux membres supérieurs
  • Nationality : French
  • Location : Marseille

Here we are : it’s the Big Day. 8 a.m. on Grand Roucas beach. Laurent gives me my swimming cap and the bracelet with the electronic chip on it that will be used to time me. My cousins, Michel, Jean-Paul and Marc are already there to encourage me. Patricia helps me into my Lycra suit, and briefs me before I join the other swimmers on the way to the Château d’If.

The shuttle takes a few minutes to transport us towards this historical site just off the coast near Marseille.

At 10.05 the whistle blows, and the 600 swimmers are off in the direction of the first stage : Sourdaras island. Having been careful to set off with the first lot of swimmers, I am not hindered by the other competitors, who are spreading their wings. There is a slight swell, which obliges me to lift my head to make sure I’m going in the right direction. However, there is always someone I can follow. There are some mermaids that are difficult to rival with: Lisa, Meredith and Laura, equipped with single flippers, who are moving ahead with

an impressive speed and grace. I was lucky enough to catch a glance at them, but only for a short time, because of the difference in our levels. After swimmin around Endoume island, we swim along the coast, still with a small group in front of me, which allows me to find my way. A boat from the organising committee comes up alongside me and puts me back on track. I have a touch of cramp in my right calf, so I slow down a little to stretch my leg, and then get back into my pace, aiming for the big red buoy anchored just off the beach, which is the finishing line. A few dozen more metres, and I’m there, then I turn around for the 500 metres in the other direction, to complete the contest.

Christine is waiting for me, to take off the electronic device that Patricia had fastened onto my suit, and helps me to take off my fin. A little kiss for my Colibri who is waiting for her Dolphin, and we go off to join the rest of the family who are there. Right now, I have no idea what my score was, and really am not too concerned about it.

A message comes over the sound system, asking me to come up onto the stand. I suppose there must be some prize for the only disabled participant, and I’ll be expected to stay for the prize-giving ceremony.

There, I am told by a person claiming to be the president of the Bouches-du-Rhône Departmental Commission for the French Federation of Underwater Sports, in quite confident tones, that there must be some mistake over my time of 1 hour, six minutes and 48 seconds, and my third place. Because of his status, he says he knows all the best single-flipper swimmers, but he has never heard of me, so there must be some mistake. He even proposes a deal : to class me equal third with another swimmer I left almost two minutes behind me.

When confronted with eye-witness reports and the proof of the electronic timer, I keep my third place, to the great disappointment of an individual who does not even deserve to have his name mentioned here.

This result proves that a disability is only a difference...

Pictures of the feat