Conquering the Channel
Why would people wish to swim the English Channel? “Because it’s there,” obviously -- and perhaps because it seems so easily conquerable, to those who require accomplishments of which to brag. The channel in places is some 350 miles wide, but at the Strait of Dover, where it meets the North Sea, it’s only 21 miles. That’s where most swimmers logically choose to take it on.
Feared for its vicious currents, tides and foul weather, the English Channel is truly a test of courage and hardihood even at its narrowest point. Countless individuals have attempted to swim it. Most have failed; some have succeeded; some have died. For the record, the first person known to have made it was a sea captain named Matthew Webb. In 1875, he employed the breaststroke to achieve the crossing, which took him almost a full day (21:45, to be exact), from Dover on the English side to Cape Gris Nez on the French coast.
Sensible folk take the ferries -- or, since its opening in 1994, the “chunnel.” In modern times, there also is a 30-minute helicopter service.
Believe I’ll opt for a ticket. . . .