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Lifeguard first ever to swim entire length of Belgian coast

20:17 18/09/2020

It took two attempts, but Flemish extreme sports enthusiast Matthieu Bonne has become the first person to swim the length of the Belgian coast. He completed the 67-kilometre swim in just over 23 hours, setting off from De Panne late on Monday afternoon and arriving at the Dutch border on the far side of Knokke-Heist on Tuesday afternoon.

Bonne, 26, is a lifeguard who runs marathons, climbs mountains and last year became the 18th Belgian to swim the English Channel. He is also something of a celebrity in Flanders after appearing in Kamp Waes, a TV programme that challenged athletic civilians to keep up with a military special forces unit.

His first attempt to swim the coast, at the end of August, went in the opposite direction, from Knokke to De Panne. He was forced to abandon the attempt at Westende, 47 kilometres in, because of high winds.

After emerging from the water on Tuesday (pictured) he confessed to some hard moments this time as well, because of the current and the cold during the night. But he was encouraged to carry on by supporters along the way, including a crowd who gathered at 2am on the beach at Bredene, his home town.

Asked about his plans, he told VRT: "I don't think I'll be getting out of bed for the next few days."

Photo ©Stefanie Reynaert/Facebook

Written by Flanders Today