ARLINGTON, Va. -- Harry Hinken, the Washington Redskins Marching Band personnel director who tried three times to become the first paraplegic to swim the English Channel, died April 23, according to his daughter, Kim Hinken. He was 79.
Mr. Hinken lost the use of his legs from polio in 1953 at age 29 and poured his energies into the Redskins Marching Band and open-water swimming, which he began as a form of physical therapy.
He developed a freestyle-type stroke to generate enough speed to cause his legs to flutter, training for nearly two years before making his first attempt to swim the 22-mile English Channel in 1967.
That outing ended after about 10 hours when he swam into an oil slick. Subsequent efforts the next two years were suspended because of high winds and heavy seas.