After a seaman had floated across the Channel on a bundle of straw, Matthew Webb made the crossing without the aid of artificial buoyancy. His first attempt ended in failure, but on 25 August 1875, he started from Admiralty Pier in Dover and made the crossing in 21 hours and 45 minutes, despite challenging tides (which delayed him for 5 hours) and a jellyfish sting.
80 failed attempts were made by a variety of people before Thomas William Burgess, who on 6 September 1911 became the second person to successfully make the crossing. He crossed from Dover to Cap Gris Nez in 22 hours and 35 minutes at his 16th bid. Burgess ate a hearty meal of ham and eggs before starting his swim and had only trained for 18 hours before he made the crossing, with his longest practice being 10 kilometres (6 mi).
Henry Sullivan was successful in his seventh attempt. He entered the water in Dover at 4:20 on Sunday afternoon, 5 August 1923. Choppy waters and capricious tides forced him to swim an estimated 90 kilometres (56 mi). He reached shore at Calais at 8:05 in the evening of 6 August, finishing in 27 hours and 45 minutes. Two other swimmers completed the swim that same summer. Enrique Tirabocchi, from Argentina, completed the swim on 13 August, finishing in a record time of 16 hours and 33 minutes and becoming the first person to swim the route starting from the French side of the Channel. American Charles Toth of Boston completed the swim on 9 September 1923, in 16 hours and 40 minutes, missing by two days the expiration of a £1,000 prize offered by the Daily Sketch for anyone who completed the swim, a prize that both Sullivan and Tirabocchi received from a representative of the Daily Sketch waiting on the shore with a cheque in hand.
Gertrude Ederle's successful cross-channel swim began at Gris Nez in France at 07:05 on the morning of 6 August 1926. Her trainer was Burgess. She came ashore at Kingsdown, Kent, England, in a total time of 14 hours and 39 minutes, making her the first woman to complete the crossing and setting the record for the fastest time, breaking the previous mark set by Tirabocchi by almost two hours. A reporter from The New York Times, who had accompanied Ederle's support team on a tugboat, recounted that Ederle was confronted by a British immigrations official, who recorded the biographical details of Ederle and the individuals on board the ship, none of whom had been carrying their passports. Ederle was finally allowed to come ashore, after promising that she would report to the authorities the following morning.
L. Walter Lissberger financed the $3,000 in expenses that Amelia Gade Corson and her husband incurred in preparing for the Channel swim. Lissberger made a wager with Lloyd's of London betting that she would succeed in crossing the Channel, and received a payout of $100,000 at odds of 20–1 when she completed her swim. She was one of three swimmers who were trying to make the swim across the Channel at the same time starting at 11:32 at night on 28 August 1926, leaving from Cape Gris Nez. The two men with her failed, Egyptian swimmer Ishak Helmy dropping out after three hours and an English swimmer failing one mile (1.6 km) from Dover's Shakespeare Cliffs. With her husband rowing alongside in a dory and providing her with hot chocolate, sugar lumps and crackers, she completed the swim in a time of 15 hours and 29 minutes, one hour longer than the record set by Gertrude Ederle three weeks earlier.
Jackie Cobell had intended to make the crossing by a more direct route in July 2010, but inadvertently set the record for the slowest solo swim, when strong currents forced her to swim a total of 105 kilometres (65 mi) in 28 hours and 44 minutes, breaking the record set by Henry Sullivan in 1923, who had been the third person, and the first American, to make the crossing.
|Direction||Country of origin||Swimmer||Year||Time||Notes|
|England to France||United Kingdom||Matthew Webb||1875||21:45||First crossing from England to France on 25 August 1875.|
|England to France||United States||Henry Sullivan||1923||26:50||Third crossing from England to France; first American to swim across the English Channel.|
|France to England|| Italy
|Enrique Tirabocchi||1923||16:33||First crossing from France to England.|
|France to England||United States||Gertrude Ederle||1926||14:39||First woman to cross in either direction.|
|France to England||United Kingdom||Mercedes Gleitze||1927||15:15||First British woman to cross the English Channel.|
|France to England||South Africa||Margaret ('Peggy') Duncan||1930||16:17||First known person from Southern Africa to swim the English Channel.|
|France to England||United Kingdom||Edward H. Temme||1934||15:34||First man to swim the English Channel in both directions. He swam from France to England in August 1927 and from England to France on 18 August 1934.|
|England to France||United States||Florence Chadwick||1953||14:42||First woman to swim the English Channel in both directions (on separate occasions).|
|France to England||Canada||Winnie Leuszler||1951||13:25||First Canadian to swim the English Channel.|
|England to France||Mexico||Damian Pizá Beltran||1953||15:23||First Mexican to swim the English Channel.|
|France to England||Bangladesh||Brojen Das||1958||First Asian (from Bikrampur, East Pakistan; now Bangladesh) to swim the English Channel, at the English Channel Swimming Competition in 1958. Das became a Bangladeshi citizen after the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.|
|England to France||India||Mihir Sen||1958||First Indian to swim the English Channel.|
|France to England||Brazil||Abilio Couto||1958||12:45||First South American to swim the English Channel.|
|France to England||Southern Rhodesia||Dennis Pearson||1959||15:36||The second known person, and first man, from Southern Africa to swim the Channel. Pearson, from Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, swam across on Bastille Day, 14 July 1959.|
|France to England||India||Arati Saha||1959||14:20||First Indian woman and first Asian woman to swim the English Channel.|
|France to England||Macedonia||Niko Nestor||1959||12:06||First Macedonian to swim the English Channel.|
|England to France to England||Argentina||Antonio Abertondo||1961||43:10||First person to swim the channel both ways non-stop.|
|England to France||South Africa||Peter Bales||1969||13.38||Second person, and first man, from South Africa to swim the English Channel. He was the third person from Southern Africa to complete the swim.|
|France to England||Macedonia||Atina Bojadži||1969||13:20||First Macedonian woman to swim the English Channel.|
|France to England||Czech Republic||František Venclovský||1971||15:26||First Czech (Czechoslovak at that time) to swim the channel.|
|England to France||Poland||Teresa Zarzeczańska||1975||11:10||First Polish woman to swim the English Channel.|
|England to France||Poland||Romuald Szopa||1978||12:49||First Polish man to swim the English Channel.|
|England to France||United Kingdom||Mary Yeats||1979||11:19||First Scottish woman to swim the English Channel.|
|England to France||United States||Charles Chapman||1981||12:30||First black swimmer to cross the Channel.|
|England to France to England to France||United States||Jon Erikson||1981||38:27||First person to swim the channel three ways.|
|England to France||Tunisia||Nejib Belhedi||1993||16:35||First Tunisian to swim the channel, namesake of a trophy for swimming the channel at the highest tide.|
|England to France||Australia||John Maclean||1998||12:55||First paraplegic to swim the Channel.|
|England to France||Barbados||Chris Gibbs||2003||11:30||First person from a Caribbean country to swim the English Channel. Aged 58, and member of The Merrymen Calypso band.|
|England to France||Singapore||Thum Ping Tjin||2005||12:24||First Singaporean to swim the Channel.|
|England to France||Bulgaria||Petar Stoychev||2007||6:57||First swimmer to cross the English Channel under 7 hours.|
|England to France||France||Philippe Croizon||2010||13:28||First quadruple amputee to swim the English Channel.|
|England to France||Iceland||Sigrún Þuríður Geirsdóttir||2015||22:34||First woman from Iceland to swim the English Channel.|
|France to England||Norway||Amandine Toso||2017||26:03||First woman from Norway to swim the English Channel.|
|England to France||Ecuador||Sara Palacios||2018||12:58||First Ecuadorian citizen and South American Woman to swim the channel.|
|England to France||Syria||Zeina Alsharkas||2019||11:36||First Syrian woman.|
|England to France||Chile||Bárbara Hernández||2019||12:13||First Chilean woman to swim the English Channel.|
|England to France to England to France to England||United States||Sarah Thomas||2019||54:10||First person to swim the channel four ways non-stop.|
|Record||Country of origin||Swimmer||Time||Date|
|Women||Czech Republic||Yvetta Hlaváčová||07:25||2006|
|Men two ways||New Zealand||Philip Rush||16:10||1987|
|Women two ways||Australia||Susie Maroney||17:14||1991|
|Men three ways||New Zealand||Philip Rush||28:21||1987|
|Women three ways||United Kingdom||Alison Streeter||34:40||1990|
|Four ways||United States||Sarah Thomas||54:10||2019|
|Record||Country of origin||Swimmer||Crossings|
|Men||United Kingdom||Kevin Murphy||34|
|Women two ways||Canada||Cynthia Nicholas||5|
|Men two ways||United Kingdom||Kevin Murphy||3|
|Women three ways||United Kingdom||Alison Streeter||1|
|United States||Sarah Thomas|
|Men three ways||United States||Jon Erikson||1|
|New Zealand||Philip Rush|
|Four ways||United States||Sarah Thomas||1|
|Record||Country of origin||Swimmer||Age||Date||Reference|
|Women||United Kingdom||Linda Ashmore||71 years||August 21, 2018|||
|Men||South Africa||Otto Thaning||73 years||September 6, 2014|||
|Record||Country of origin||Swimmer||Age||Date||Reference|
|Women||United Kingdom||Samantha Druce||12 years, 118 days||1983|||
|Men||United Kingdom||Thomas Gregory||11 years, 330 days||1988|||
|Record||Country of origin||Swimmers||Time||Date|
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The coach who joined the party abroad was none other than that Thomas Burgess who, 15 years before, had been the second to make the Channel crossing
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Gertrude Ederle, who was called America's best girl by President Calvin Coolidge in 1926 after she became the first woman to swim across the English Channel, died yesterday at a nursing home in Wyckoff, N.J. She was 98.
- She did it in 14 hours 39 minutes, breaking the men's record of the time by two hours. However, this swim attracted some controversy. On 16 August, The Westminster Gazette reported locals as saying that "Miss Ederle swam under the lea of one of the accompanying tugs" while another boat "navigated in such a manner as to keep the heavy seas and tides off her" and that "Miss Ederle was drawn along by the suction of the tug so that she was able to swim at about twice the speed she would have been able to swim under ordinary conditions." The Dover Express and East Kent News commented that "So far little information has been given of the detail of Miss Ederle's swim. The most extraordinary thing about it being that she made no westward drift with the ebb tide, which on the day in question ran westward for nearly seven hours."
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Edward Temme, a London insurance clerk, was the first man to swim across the Channel both ways, from France to England in August 1927 and from England to France on 18 August 1934.
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