A man who died while attempting to swim the Channel has been named as endurance athlete Douglas Waymark.
Waymark, who had previously reached the summit of Mount Everest, was taking part in the near-300-mile Enduroman Arch to Arc triathlon when he got into difficulty on Monday night.
His sister, Jo Ikel, wrote on Facebook: “Douglas Waymark has not completed his Channel swim. Last night he felt he could no longer continue his quest and swam to the boat supporting him. He passed out and was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Ashford. At around midnight, he sadly died. We are all devastated but take comfort in him doing what he loved best to the very end.”
Waymark had already run 87 miles from Marble Arch, central London, to Dover before embarking on the swim. The last leg of the challenge involves a 181-mile cycle from Calais to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
Classified as an extreme event, solo athletes who participate are required to prove their experience in ultra-distance challenges. According to the Enduroman Twitter feed, the challenge has only been completed by 25 people in history.
Its last update said Waymark drank water at 8.30pm. “Moon is rising behind a cloud over Calais. Air temp dropping, light fading. #DougWaymark swims on,” it said.
Waymark had participated in a number of endurance events previously. In 2008-9, he completed the Seven Summits challenge to climb the highest mountain on each continent, including Everest and Kilimanjaro. Among other events he finished was the Double Enduroman, in 2014, which is made up of a 4.8-mile swim, 230 miles of cycling and a double marathon. He completed it in 35 hours and nine minutes.
On Thursday he wrote on Facebook that the Enduroman Arch to Arc triatholon “was arguably the toughest thing” he had ever completed. He noted that it was “very weather dependent”.
On Saturday he wrote that the weather was not “playing ball”, but in a later update said: “Weather is still uncertain but have decided to start the run tonight at 10pm in the hope a window opens up.”
Ikel wrote: “He was doing exactly what he wanted to do and throwing everything at it. I am so proud of everything he achieved.”
Graham Fletcher posted a tribute on Facebook, saying all Waymark’s friends were “devastated but take comfort in him doing what he loved best to the very end … All of us who knew Douglas Waymark, will have so many memories of him, shared some great times with him, I am, as i’m sure you will be devastated by the news this morning.”
A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “At around 9.20pm, UK coastguard received a VHF radio call from a support vessel reporting that a cross-Channel swimmer was in difficulty and needed assistance.
“The vessel was in French waters around 12nm (nautical miles) from Dover.
“The UK coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Lydd, which was training nearby, arrived on scene within 10 minutes and airlifted the swimmer to the William Harvey hospital, Ashford.”