(Aug. 9) -- You'd think that if a person went to all the trouble of swimming the 27 or so miles of ocean separating England from France, the least the French could do is let a guy stay, right?
But that's not the case according to Charlie Wittmack, who has just completed the swimming portion of the World Tri, an 11-month, 10,000-mile triathlon that, if all goes well, will end in June at the top of Mount Everest.
Wittmack started the swimming portion last month in London and swam 275 miles up the River Thames before swimming the Channel on Aug. 8.
The swim across the Channel wasn't easy -- by any definition.
"After you get 10 miles offshore, the water is very cold," Wittmack told AOL News. "Plus, you're swimming across the tide so you don't swim directly across, but more in an 'S' pattern."
That means that he had to swim between 30 and 40 miles to go the 27-mile distance across the Channel.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that, after landing on dry land, Wittmack had to get in a boat and sail back to jolly old England.
"Because of customs laws, you can't actually enter France by swimming," Wittmack said bemusedly. "So after landing, I had to ride back to Dover and re-enter France properly."
But that inconvenience is minor compared to what Wittmack has endured since starting his swim. Originally, he was set to swim the Channel on Aug. 2, but he wasn't able to make it.
"I had an amoeba attack," Wittmack said. "I ended up in the emergency room. The way it works is, you get sick and spend 12 to 24 hours throwing up. Then you recover and then you get another attack two weeks later. At one point, I had a 104-degree temperature."
Wittmack has also lost two toenails on his right foot and suffered a major jellyfish attack, making the swimming portion of the triathlon very trying indeed.
"At one point, I was stung 10 times in one hour," Wittmack said. Even worse, he added, was the Frisbee-like fish he encountered. "It stung me on an area covering my forehead and my chin."
Oh, and don't get him started on the eels.
"When you're swimming in open water, they have this nasty habit of getting stuck in your swimsuit," Wittmack said. "Sometimes, I'd be swimming and I'd grab an eel like it was a drumstick."
If this sounds bad, it hasn't always been that way. There have been some good days as well.
"The tide is a factor," he said. "When it's with you, you go faster, and when it's against you, you go slower. One day, I swam 20 miles when I expected to go 10. However, the next day, I got stuck and only swam 10 miles in the time it takes to go 20."
Wittmack and his crew ended up stuck in a mud flat up to their knees.
"We walked a mile and a quarter that way, pulling a kayak, and the shells were digging into our legs. Finally, the Port Authority came by with a ship and plucked us up out of the mud."
Although Wittmack is now the first man to swim the English Channel AND climb Mount Everest, he won't have much time to rest on his laurels -- or do any kind of resting at all.
Now that the swimming part is over, the expedition continues with a 9,000-mile bicycle ride across Europe and Asia, passing over many of the world's most rugged and remote mountain ranges and crossing hundreds of miles of barren sand desert before climbing over the Himalaya mountains to Calcutta, India.
It will be slightly easier than the swimming, but it won't be a ride in the park, either.
His ride will take him through deserts and mountain ranges covered with snow and ice, as well as areas that are rife with political problems.
If and when Wittmack finishes the World Tri, he will have completed what may be the most difficult human endurance event ever devised. However, that's not the only reason he's doing it.
Wittmack sees his endeavor as a humanitarian mission and is using the World Tri as a way to raise awareness about maternal mortality.
But another goal is to create "global connections" with the people he meets on the journey. In that regard, he's already a success.
"We were swimming down the Thames and there were 30 kids on shore cheering us on," Wittmack said. "One of the girls was having her birthday party and wanted to celebrate it partly by watching us. Later on, I met her dad, and he invited us to their home and put up the crew in apartments."