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Flemish adventurer forced to give up swim along Belgian coast

05:51 28/08/2020
From Flanders Today

Flemish extreme sports enthusiast Matthieu Bonne started on a journey yesterday that has never before been attempted: to swim the North Sea along the entire length of Belgium.

Bonne (pictured) is a lifeguard who runs marathons, climbs mountains and became the 18th Belgian to swim the English Channel last year. He took off from Knokke on the north coast yesterday morning en route to De Panne, the last stop on the south Belgian coast. The total distance is 67 kilometres.

He started his swim at 10.30 and was meant to arrive in De Panne at about 6.00 this morning. His progress could be followed on a livestream map.

Bonne, 26, became a celebrity when he appeared in Kamp Waes, a TV programme that aired early this year and challenged athletic citizens to keep up the a military special forces unit. “I feel physically and mentally at my best,” Bonne tod VRT news before he set out this morning. “Now the weather just has to co-operate.”

Unfortunately, it did not. Bonne was being followed by a boat for the entire length of the swim, and the weather was closely monitored. Heavy winds some 47 kilometres into the swim meant he was forced to stop late last night at Westende. He had managed more than two-thirds of the swim.

The point of the adventure, he said yesterday, is to prove “that there are no limitations on what the human body can do. That if you set your mind to something, it will happen”. It is highly likely that he will take to the North Sea again in future with a better forecast.

Photo courtesy VRT

Written by Flanders Today