A sportsman who almost died after attempting to swim across the North Channel has paid tribute to the team of doctors and nurses at the Ulster Hospital who saved his life.
Hungarian extreme long distance swimmer Atila Manyoki yesterday successfully swim from Donaghadee to Portpatrick in 12 hours and 11 minutes to complete the Ocean’s Seven challenge, which involves swimming the seven most dangerous waters in the world.
However, a previous attempt to complete the gruelling crossing one year ago almost cost him his life.
Atila, who is from Budapest, was suffering from hypothermia, severe jellyfish stings and breathing difficulties when he was admitted to the Ulster Hospital intensive care unit last August.
He was in very poor condition but made a remarkable recovery, and vowed to return to complete the challenge.
And the first thing he did after his incredible achievement was to return to the hospital to thank consultant anaesthetist Dr Bob Darling and the nurses at the ICU.
“I owe everything to them,” he said.
“My motivation to come back here and complete the swim came from these people and this place. Dr Darling brought me back and I must say so many thanks to the hospital.”
Reflecting on his successful crossing of the North Channel, Atila added: “It was brilliant, finally I did it. The conditions were like the previous time, with lots of jellyfish but I only got five or six stings in the final section. They weren’t so serious this time and I was able to go on. Now I am the fastest overall time leader in the Ocean’s Seven series, and it is a fantastic feeling.”
Consultant Anaesthetist Dr Bob Darling said: “It’s remarkable that Atila was able to come back and complete the swim, first of all psychologically but also that he was able to get back into the physical condition to take on this challenge again. I was worried that there would be some scarring or residual effect on his lungs. I am really pleased for him that he has achieved this milestone. He is unique.”
Atila says his next challenge will be swimming the 50k around Manhattan Island in New York.
The 44-year-old sportsman swam through the La Manche in 2013, while in 2014 he coped with the Tsugaru Strait of Japan, which is regarded as the most difficult waterway of the world.
Next up was the Molokai Channel in Hawaii, the Catalina Channel near Los Angeles, the Straits of Gibraltar and the Cook Strait in New Zealand. The North Channel swim makes him only the 17th person ever to complete the Ocean’s Seven.