Tributes after swimmer Nick Thomas dies crossing English Channel

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Media captionNick Thomas was an experienced open water swimmer

A man who died while trying to swim across the English Channel has been described as "an inspiration".

Nick Thomas, 45, from Ellesmere in Shropshire, was pulled unconscious from the water as he neared the end of the 21-mile endurance feat.

In tributes on Facebook he was described as brave and a "family man through and through".

Mr Thomas spoke to the BBC last week about the dangers of open water swimming.

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A spokesman for the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation said he was taken from the water "less than a mile from the finish in France".

Mr Thomas had set off from Dover on Saturday morning and had been swimming for about 16 hours.

He was pulled unconscious from the water on Sunday before being given CPR and taken to Calais where he was pronounced dead.

Image copyright Shropshire Star
Image caption Nick Thomas successfully swam the Channel in 2014
Image caption Nick Thomas died after leaving Dover on Saturday

Speaking about his friend, Mark Kirkman said on Facebook: "I met him though football about 20 years ago, and a kinder man you'd never meet.

"A family man through and through, business owner and true competitor."

Jason Knight said on Facebook: "Brave strong man. What an inspiration."

Also on Facebook, Kate Hartshorn said: "So sad just read about this.... very sorry and my thoughts are with his family he seemed such a nice chap . Rip x"

Asked last week about the differences between swimming in open water and a pool, Mr Thomas told the BBC: "You'll get a nice sunny day and the water looks ever so inviting and people are under the impression that it's going to be the same sort of temperature as a swimming pool.

"People get in and they obviously get into difficulty because the water's a lot colder than they were anticipating it was going to be."

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