Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Swimming the English Channel

The 1st man to swim the English Channel without the use of artificial aids was British steamship captain Matthew Webb in 21 hours and 45 minutes in 1875 at the age of 27. The 1st woman to accomplish the feat was American Olympian Gertrude Ederle in 14 hours and 30 minutes in 1926 at age 20. The 1st quadruple amputee to swim the channel will likely be Frenchman Philippe Croizon in an estimated 24 hours in September 2010 at 42! Less than half of today's channel swimmers make it the 19 nautical miles from the coast of England near Dover to the coast of France near Calais. The water is cold (between 59 and 65 degrees), the currents are strong, the tide changes direction every 6 hours, the weather conditions vary quickly, and the traffic from commercial vessels and passenger ferries is very busy. Despite these difficulties, more than 1,200 swimmers have succeeded. Crossings are arranged through and ratified by the Channel Swimming Association Ltd. (established in 1927) and the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation. Croizon's success will put him in the record books.

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