Physical Therapist Swims English Channel

Stanley V. Paris, PT, PHD, Brings Four-Person Relay Team to Victory During Final Leg

ALEXANDRIA, VA, August 24, 2009 — Physical therapist Stanley V. Paris, PT, PhD, FAPTA, age 72, member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), successfully swam the English Channel as part of a four-person relay team on Thursday, August 6, 2009.

Paris, who swam four times during the relay, helped bring the relay team to a victorious crossing of the English Channel in 13 hours and 25 minutes. "These are the kinds of moments I live for, a real challenge that I was not expected to make," Paris said.

Paris, a last-minute substitution on this relay team, swam the final leg and brought the team to victory when one of the team members was not able to reach land during his swim. Making his way through outcroppings of tall rocks, Paris reached the French shore at Cape Gris Nez, the nearest point to England and the narrowest in the Channel where the currents and waves were the most difficult. "I wanted to stand on French soil 'with no water beyond," Paris said. After climbing onto a rock on the shore, Paris signaled his boat and "the ship's horn blared- we had successfully swum the Channel!"

Paris, who made two successful solo crossings and one successful relay crossing in the 1980s,was also managinga six-person relay team from the physical therapy department of the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in St. Augustine, FL, an institution for physical and occupational therapy education founded by Paris in 1979. The relay team successfully swam the Channel on Friday, August 14, led and coached by APTA member and physical therapy student Teresa Sebastian of Pineville, LA. The team completed the swim in 15 hours and 22 minutes.

On August 18 Paris attempted a solo swim but was forced to end the attempt due to severe leg cramps. In July 2008, Paris attempted to enter the Guinness World Records as the oldest person to swim across the English Channel. While he was not successful in this record-breaking attempt, Paris succeeded in raising funds for the Foundation for Physical Therapy's "Destination: Research Excellence — Roadmap for the Future of Physical Therapy" campaign. According to Paris, "The physical therapy profession is working to increase evidence-based practice. The money we raised is now creating possibilities for promising physical therapist researchers who push the boundaries of science and ultimately improve the quality of life for the patients we serve every day."

Photos and details of Paris' journey in preparation for last year's swim, as well as his 2009 relay team success story are on his blog.

Physical therapists are highly educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility - in many cases without expensive surgery or the side effects of prescription medications. APTA represents more than 72,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Its purpose is to improve the health and quality of life of individuals through the advancement of physical therapist practice, education, and research. In most states, patients can make an appointment directly with a physical therapist, without a physician referral. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at

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