An Irish swimmer has died crossing the English Channel with just one kilometre to go before the shore.
Tributes have been paid to Paraic Casey, a 45-year-old from Co Cork whose passion was swimming.
The 45-year-old's widow Riana was on the Pace Arrow support boat next to her husband when he fell ill in the water in the early hours of this morning.
"Paraic was an amazing, healthy, tough, loving husband, friend, brother, uncle, son, nephew and cousin whose recent passion for swimming brought him to great places," she said.
"I would like to thank everyone for their love and support.
"We ask that our privacy is respected during this difficult time."
Mr Casey began his swim from Dover shortly after 9am on Saturday.
He was just 1km from the coast of France when he took ill at around 1.30am.
Updates on his Twitter page followed his every stroke and said he was exhausted before they suddenly stopped.
Michael Oram, chairman of the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, said: "Attempts were made by crew to resuscitate him before a French rescue helicopter arrived with medics who tried further resuscitation."
A speedboat of rescuers from Calais also rushed to the scene, but despite several attempts medics were unable to revive him.
A post-mortem examination is due to be held to establish the cause of death.
Mr Casey travelled to Dover with his wife and support team during the week, but he had to wait until the weather improved before he could begin his endurance swim.
He was raising money for two charities, Marymount Hospice in Cork and the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Mr Casey, who worked at Fota Wildlife Park, was a member of the Sandycove Swimming Club in Kinsale, Co Cork, for the last five years.
Ned Denison, secretary, said his friend was an excellent swimmer and a great man.
"He was a lovely bloke," said Mr Denison, who previously swan the Channel and was Mr Casey's training partner.
"He loved the water and he was in an environment where lots of other swimmers were pushing the distance and Paraic started to swim further and further and further."
Mr Casey signed up for the 35km (21-mile) Channel swim two years ago and intensified his training.
Previous achievements include a 16km swim between Cork and Cobh and a relay swim with his wife in Lake Zurich.
"In Dover he was fit and healthy and in great shape, with the appropriate amount of confidence and caution," added Mr Denison.
"He was an excellent swimmer."
Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed staff from its consular office in Paris were assisting the family.