Belfast Telegraph

Hungarian swimmer tells of North Channel nightmare

Rescued man hospitalised after repeated jellyfish stings

By Darren McCullins

A Hungarian man recovering in the Ulster Hospital after being saved from the North Channel last Saturday has vowed to complete his swimming challenge once he fully recovers.

Attila Manyoki (43), from Budapest, was plucked from the water suffering from hypothermia, jellyfish stings and breathing difficulties.

He was less than two miles from completing the Oceans Seven challenge with record-breaking times, but failed to complete the last leg between Donaghadee and Portpatrick, in south-west Scotland.

Attila told the Belfast Telegraph he was lucky to be alive.

"At one point there was a very low chance, but I'm here," he said. "I have a new life and I'm very happy about it."

The father of twins has said he will be back to complete the challenge.

"I have a target and I have a dream; to do the Oceans Seven. You have to accept if you fight against the elements and take them on, there are things you cannot manage - like the jellyfish.

"The doctors believe that everything has come from the lion's mane jellyfish. You need luck, but you must be prepared mentally, physically and I felt I was absolutely ready."

Although he remains determined, Attila does not know when he will return to endurance swimming.

"The most important thing is a full recovery. That will be a few months. I don't know what the possibilities are for swimming but I will be coming back.

"Minimum next year, so one or two years," he said.

"I got a new chance for life, a chance to start again and finally to complete it."

Consultant Dr Bob Darling said Attila was recovering "extremely well" having been moved from the intensive care unit and believes the experienced swimmer was unlucky.

He said: "There seems to have been a bloom of these lion's mane jellyfish and he might have swam into a full sheet of them.

"The poison from the jellyfish affected his ability to swim. It gave him stomach and muscle cramps so he wasn't able to take on the calories that endurance swimmers need, so his muscles stopped functioning properly.

"The energy the muscles produce creates the heat that keeps your body temperature up. His body temperature fell and once it falls to what his was at, even when he arrived here, the brain doesn't work particularly well."

Oceans Seven is considered one of the most difficult swimming challenges in the world due to changeable weather, jellyfish and low temperatures.

Attila had already completed six legs of the challenge, including the Tsugaru Strait in Japan, regarded as the most difficult places to swim in the world.

Belfast Telegraph

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