Swimmer back in Northern Ireland to finish dangerous challenge... and thank medics who saved him
A Hungarian man who was plucked from the water after attempting to swim the Irish Sea last summer has returned to Northern Ireland to thank the medics who saved his life.
Extreme long-distance swimmer Attila Manyoki (44), from Budapest, was suffering from hypothermia, severe jellyfish stings and breathing difficulties when he was admitted to the Ulster Hospital's intensive care unit last August.
Doctors feared Mr Manyoki would not survive the night when he was brought in to hospital but he made a dramatic recovery and always vowed to return to complete the Oceans Seven challenge.
The North Channel - between Northern Ireland and Scotland - has been recognised as one of the most difficult swims in the world.
It is one leg of the Oceans Seven challenge, considered to be one of the most difficult in the world due to changeable weather, jellyfish and low temperatures.
The swim is only possible during the summer months when the waters are slightly warmer.
On Monday, Mr Manyoki finally and successfully swam the North Channel to complete the physical challenge of swimming the seven toughest waterways and oceans in the world.
He crossed the channel from Donaghadee in Co Down to Portpatrick in Scotland in a time of 12 hours and 11 minutes.
Mr Manyoki was tantalisingly close to the Scottish coast when he had to be rescued last year.
Yesterday he returned to the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald to thank the doctors and nurses for saving his life during his attempt on the North Channel a year ago.
He said: "I owe everything to Dr Bob Darling and the team in the intensive care unit at the Ulster Hospital. My motivation to come back here and complete the swim came from these people and this place.
"I got a new chance for life, a chance to start again and finally to complete the challenge.
"Dr Darling brought me back and I must say so many thanks to the hospital."
The father of twins also spoke of his delight at breaking the record for the fastest time over all seven swims.
"It was brilliant, finally I did it," he said.
"You have to accept if you fight against the elements and take them on, there are things you cannot manage - like the jellyfish.
The swimmer added: "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 Oceans Seven series and it is a fantastic feeling."
Consultant anaesthetist Dr Bob Darling said while Mr Manyoki is very fit and strong, he was in a "very poor condition" when he was rescued.
Dr Darling said it was remarkable that his former patient was able to come back and complete the swim, psychologically and physically.
He said: "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."
Mr Manyoki's next challenge will be swimming 50km around Manhattan Island, New York.
The sportsman swam the English Channel in 2013, and in 2014 he endured the Tsugaru Strait of Japan, regarded as the most difficult waterway in the world.
Next up was the Molokai Channel in Hawaii, the Catalina Channel near Los Angeles, the Strait of Gibraltar and the Cook Strait in New Zealand.
The North Channel swim makes Mr Manyoki the 17th person to complete the Oceans Seven challenge.