List of successful English Channel swimmers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

This is a list of notable successful swims across the English Channel.[1]

First attempts[edit]

After a seaman had floated across the Channel on a bundle of straw, Matthew Webb became the first to make the crossing without the aid of artificial buoyancy. His first attempt ended in failure, but on August 25, 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.[2]

On September 6, 1911, after 15 unsuccessful tries, Thomas William Burgess became the second person to successfully make the crossing, with a total of 80 unsuccessful crossings made before Burgess duplicated Webb's feat, making the crossing from Dover to Gris Nez in 22 hours and 35 minutes. Burgess ate a hearty meal of ham and eggs before starting his swim and had only swum for 18 hours before he made the crossing, with his longest swim being six miles.[3]

Henry Sullivan was successful in his seventh attempt. He entered the water in Dover at 4:20 on Sunday afternoon, August 5, 1923, and began his swim. Though the straight-line distance is 22.5 miles, choppy waters and capricious tides forced him to swim an estimated 56 miles. He reached shore at Calais at 8:05 in the evening of August 6, finishing in 27 hours and 45 minutes.[4] Two other swimmers completed the swim that same summer. Enrique Tirabocchi, from Argentina, completed the swim on August 13, 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.[5] American Charles Toth of Boston completed the swim on September 9, 1923, in 16 hours and 40 minutes, missing by two days the expiration of a 1,000 Pound 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 check in hand.[6]

Gertrude Ederle's successful cross-channel swim began at Cap Gris Nez in France at 07:05 on the morning of August 6, 1926. Her trainer was Burgess.[7] 14 hours and 30 minutes later, coming 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.[8]

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.[9] 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 August 28, 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 from Dover's Shakespeare Cliffs.[10] 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 that summer.[11]

Jackie Cobell had intended to make the 21-mile 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 65 miles 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.[12]

First swims[edit]

Direction Swimmer Year Time Notes
England to France United Kingdom Matthew Webb 1875 21:45 First crossing from England to France on 25 August 1875.[1]
England to France United Kingdom Thomas William Burgess 1911 22:35 Second crossing from England to France.[1][7]
England to France United States Henry Sullivan 1923 26:50 Third crossing from England to France.[1]
France to England Argentina Enrique Tirabocchi 1923 16:33 First crossing from France to England.[1]
France to England United States Charles Toth 1923 16:58 Third crossing from France to England.[1]
France to England United States Gertrude Ederle 1926 14:39 First woman to cross in either direction.[1][13][14]
France to England United States Amelia Gade Corson 1926 15:29 First mother to cross from England to France
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 August 18, 1934.[1][15]
France to England Wales Jenny Eileen James 1951 13:55 First Welsh woman to swim the English Channel.[16]
England to France to England United States Florence Chadwick 1953 14:42 First woman to swim the English Channel in both directions.[1]
England to France Mexico Damian Pizá Beltran 1953 15:23 First Mexican to swim the English Channel.
France to England Canada Marilyn Bell 1955 14:06 Second Canadian to swim the English Channel.[1][17]
France to England Bangladesh Brojen Das 1958 First Asian (from Bikrampur, Bangladesh) to swim the English Channel, at the English Channel Swimming Competition in 1958.
India Mihir Sen 1958 First Indian to swim the English Channel.
India Arati Saha 1959 14:20 First Indian woman and first Asian woman 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 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.[18]
England to France Australia John Maclean 1998 12:55 First paraplegic to swim the Channel.[19]
England Folkestone to France Cap Gris Nez France Philippe Croizon 2010 13:28 First quadruple amputee to swim the English Channel.
England to France United Kingdom Killerwhales Channel Swim Team (The Extreme Sport Challenges Association) 2013 08:25 Fastest Relay Team crossing from England to France on 25 August 2013.


Record Swimmer Time Date
Men Australia Trent Grimsey 6:55 2012
Men two ways New Zealand Philip Rush 16:10 1987
Men three ways New Zealand Philip Rush 28:21 1987
Women Czech Republic Yvetta Hlaváčová 7:25 2006
Women two ways Australia Susie Maroney 17:14 1991
Women three ways United Kingdom Alison Streeter 34:40 1990

Most crossings[edit]

Record Swimmer Crossings
Men United Kingdom Kevin Murphy 34
Men two ways United Kingdom Kevin Murphy, Australia Stuart Johnson 3
Men three ways United States Jon Erikson, New Zealand Philip Rush 1
Women United Kingdom Alison Streeter 43
Women two ways Canada Cynthia Nicholas 5
Women three ways United Kingdom Alison Streeter, Australia Chloe McCardel 1


  • In 1988 Thomas Gregory (UK) was the youngest male (11 years and 11 months) to swim the English channel, in a time of 11 hours 54 minutes.
  • Lynne Cox crossed in July 1972, at age fifteen, breaking both the men's and women's records.
  • Marilyn Bell, on July 31, 1955, at age seventeen, was the first youngest female (14th woman, 32nd person, 2nd Canadian) to cross from France to England with her time of 14 hours 36 minutes.[20][21]
  • On September 3/4 2010 BEST (Bristol English Channel Swim Team) became the youngest relay team ever to swim the English Channel, in a time of 13 hours, 25 minutes and 30 seconds. The average age of the team, from Bristol, England and consisting only of boys, was 12 years 118 days. They were piloted by Mike Oram of the CS&PF (Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation).
  • Six Girls No Buoys, on 1 September 2013, became the youngest relay team consisting only of girls (five 13-year-olds and one 14-year-old) to swim the Channel, in 13 hours, 6 minutes and 19 seconds.
  • Millie Elson, in September 2013, at age thirteen, became the youngest deaf person to swim the channel as part of the London-based Six Girls No Buoys relay team.


  • Otto Thaning of South Africa was aged 73 when he successfully crossed from Dover on September 6, 2014. He also holds the record for the fastest time for over 50 year olds across the Channel which he did in 1994 aged 53.
  • Cyril Baldock, who was aged 70 years and 9 months when he crossed on 20 August 2014, taking 12 hours 45 minutes. Cyril is the 5th Australian to cross the channel.
  • The oldest male swimmer to cross under the rules of the Channel Swimming Association is Australian Clifford Batt, who was aged 67 years and 240 days when he crossed on 19 August 1987, taking 18 hours 37 minutes.
  • The oldest female swimmer is Susan Oldham of Australia, who was 64 years, 257 days old when she completed the 21-mile swim on August 24, 2010.[22]
Other records
  • 7 October 1927, Mercedes Gleitze became, on her eighth attempt, the first British woman to swim the channel. She swam from France to England in 15 hours 15 minutes.[23]
  • Hassan Abdel Rehim (Egypt) won the first Daily Mail cross channel race(men) - France to England August 22, 1950. The women's race was won by Eileen Fenton (Dewsbury, England).
  • Mihir Sen became the first Indian to swim the English Channel, from Dover to Calais on September 27, 1958.[24]
  • Other swimming crossings include: Vicki Keith (first butterfly swim crossing); Montserrat Tresserras (first Spanish swimmer); Abhijit Rao, the youngest Asian (6 August 1988); comedians who have swum the channel include Doon Mackichan, and David Walliams.[25]
  • In 1997, at the age of 32, Mike Taylor became the first person with diagnosed multiple sclerosis to take part in a completed relay across the English Channel, swimming the first section without use of his legs.[26][27]
  • Lachlan (Lochie) Hinds completed the swim from England to France on July 5, 2012 and broke the record as the youngest Australian male to complete the swim at the age of 16.
  • Charlotte Samuels completed the swim from England to France on September 8, 2014 at age 16. By completing the crossing, she became the youngest person to complete the Triple Crown of Swimming (21 mi (34 kilometres) across the English Channel, 20.1 mi (32.3 kilometres) between Catalina Island and the mainland in Southern California, USA, and 28.5 mi (45.9 kilometres) around Manhattan Island in New York City, USA).


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Listing of Successful Swims". Solo swims. Retrieved 2009-08-12. 
  2. ^ Captain Matthew Webb, International Swimming Hall of Fame. Accessed August 5, 2010.
  3. ^ Staff. "The Channel Swim: Burgess's Perseverance Rewarded After Fifteen failures", Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XXXVIII, Issue 12581, October 11, 1911, Page 8. Accessed August 5, 2010.
  4. ^ Staff. "Henry Sullivan Crossed Channel - United States Swimmer Swam From England to France in 27 Hours 25 Minutes - Seventh Attempt - Third to Accomplish Feat - Capt. Webb and Burgess Other Two", The Montreal Gazette, August 7, 1923. Accessed August 5, 2010.
  5. ^ Staff. "CUTS WEBB'S TIME IN CHANNEL SWIM; Tirabocchi of Argentina Is the First to Succeed Over the Calais-to-Dover Route. 16 HOURS 33 MINS. IN WATER Second Winner of L1,000 Prize Is Exhausted at Finish -- Toth Quits Near Goal. CUTS WEBB'S TIME IN CHANNEL SWIM", The New York Times, August 13, 1923. Accessed August 5, 2010.
  6. ^ Staff. "TOTH SWIMS CHANNEL; MISSES 1,000 PRIZE; Boston's Man's Feat Just Two Days Too Late For Reward.", The New York Times, September 10, 1923, August 5, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Gallico, Paul (January 19, 1964). "First Queen of Channel Swimmers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-12. 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 ... 
  8. ^ Rutherford, Alec. "EXPERT'S STORY OF SWIM.", The New York Times, August 7, 1926. Accessed August 5, 2010.
  9. ^ Staff. "MRS. CORSON SELF-TRAINED.; She Has Swum Around Manhattan and From Albany to New York.", The New York Times, August 29, 1926. Accessed August 6, 2010.
  10. ^ Staff. "MRS. CARSON STARTS TO SWIM CHANNEL; Woman Who Made Albany to New York Record Reported Making Excellent Progress.", The New York Times, August 28, 1926. Accessed August 5, 2010.
  11. ^ Staff. "Sport: First Mother", Time (magazine), September 6, 1926. Accessed August 6, 2010.
  12. ^ Staff. "Channel swimmer sets slowest record", BBC News, July 27, 2010. Accessed August 5, 2010.
  13. ^ Severo, Richard (December 1, 2003). "Gertrude Ederle, the First Woman to Swim Across the English Channel, Dies at 98". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 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. 
  14. ^ She did it in 14 hours 31 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."
  15. ^ "People of Note". Retrieved 2010-08-10. 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. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Solo Swims of Ontario Inc. Hall of Fame". In 1955, the year following year her Lake Ontario crossing, Marilyn swam the English Channel and became the 32nd person (14th woman, and second Canadian) to cross from France to England with her time of 14 hours 36 minutes. 
  18. ^ "Nejib BelHedi - Solo Channel Swimmer". Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  19. ^ "Briefs". The Age. 1 September 1998. p. 7. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ [1][dead link]
  22. ^ "English Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, CS&PF Home Page". Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  23. ^ The Vindication Swim: Mercedes Gleitze and Rolex take the plunge and become world-renowned, John E Brozak, International Wristwatch Magazine, December 2003, Retrieved 24 September 2015
  24. ^ Bose, Anjali, Samsad Bangali Chariutabhidhan, Vol II, (Bengali)p. 268, Sishu Sahitya Samsad Pvt. Ltd., ISBN 81-86806-99-7
  25. ^ "Watch Walliams' Channel swim". London: BBC. 4 July 2006. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  26. ^ "Taylor-made hero". South London Press. August 22, 1997. Retrieved 2011-05-26. 
  27. ^ "MS victim describes his Channel swim triumph: "I did it to prove that I'm not on the scrapheap, explains defiant Michael."". Express and Star (page 12). Tuesday. Retrieved 2011-05-26.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

External links[edit]