Matthew Webb swims the English Channel

The first successful unaided swim of the English Channel began on 24 August 1875.

Captain Matthew Webb, Swam From Dover, England to Calais, France, from World's Champions, Second Series (N43) for Allen & Ginter Cigarettes,1888. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Matthew Webb first came to prominence while working as Second Mate on the Cunard Line’s Russia. After a man fell overboard mid-Atlantic he dived in to try and rescue him. Despite failing (the man was never seen again), Webb was awarded the first Stanhope medal for the most courageous and heroic rescue of the year by the Royal Humane Society and became a public name. After a more successful rescue from drowning in the Severn of his own 12-year-old brother, he decided on a career as a professional swimmer.

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