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Latino Daily News

Tuesday December 20, 2011

Man Becomes First Handicapped Person to Swim Across River Plate Estuary From Uruguay to Buenos Aires

Man Becomes First Handicapped Person to Swim Across River Plate Estuary From Uruguay to Buenos Aires

Photo: Man Becomes First Handicapped Person to Swim Across River Plate Estuary From Uruguay to Buenos Aires

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A 51-year-old Argentine man who lost a leg three decades ago in a traffic accident on the weekend became the first handicapped person to swim across the River Plate estuary from Uruguay to Buenos Aires.

“The river is not only the widest in the world but also it’s truly the most difficult to swim. It has waves ... that block you, currents against (you), from the left and the right, and above (they push) you down, it’s very difficult. You have to have a lot of strength,” retired civil servant Gustavo Villarreal told Efe Monday.

He began the crossing early Sunday morning on the Uruguayan coast and finished it 10 hours later in the port of Buenos Aires, where a small group of friends and relatives welcomed him.

Villarreal, who had attempted the feat once before but had to suspend his effort midway on the recommendation of the coast guard due to bad weather, swam accompanied by a small boat carrying a support team, his wife and a doctor.

“Now I look at the videos my wife recorded and I’m amazed ... It was 52 kilometers (32 miles) and it seemed to me like 150,” he said.

When Villarreal had his motorcycle accident in 1982, in which he lost his leg, he went into a serious depression that led him to abuse alcohol and drugs, but 10 years ago, thanks to the support of his wife, me managed to overcome his addictions.

Therefore, the slogan of his crossing was “No to drugs, yes to sports,” with the aim of encouraging other people in his situation to follow his example.