A short history of English Channel Swimming [Infographic]

It seems all the cool web kids are doing Infographics these days. Being neither cool, (more usually cold), nor a kid, I’ve created a few (I started just to see if I could create any at all) on disparate swimming subjects including revisiting some of this site’s most popular articles. Regular readers will by now probably realise that I am most interested in creating my own content to give you something new or different that hasn’t popped up in a thousand other places first.

This was the first infographic I created, simply because it was the easiest  subject for me to put in the details, given my interest. It has always struck me that there was a lack of a short synopsis for Channel Aspirants or those writing about the English Channel. It’s a little less an infographic in truth, and a little more a potted history.

You can blame me for the allocation of different Eras to Channel Swimming. It seemed a good way to delineate some of the achievements and yet retain a sense of historic connection while showing progression. One could of course extend the Pioneer Era quite longer out or roll up the Pioneer and Golden age eras.  One thing I’d be keen to stress is that such as delineation doesn’t in any way devalue the achievements of what I’ve called the Modern era. It would be possible to segregate eras by technology, by speed or even by numbers successful. I choose instead to do it mostly by swimmer. Webb, Burgess and Ederle are the touchstones and were the first pioneers. But Antonio Abertondo setting out on his two-way was no less extraordinary, nor Jon Erikson, nor Vicki Keith almost thirty years later. Indeed, one of the things about the English Channel, is that each swimmer that stands on the shore about to plunge themselves into the unknown also becomes one of the Pioneers.

Had I more space, which was ultimately what governed the content, I’d have included all the Kings and Queens, such as Des Renford, Mike Reid and Cynthia Nichols, the various speed records and technological changes. But I guess the point of an Infographic is easily digested information. There are of course many interesting or inspiring or even tragic possible additions that had to be sacrificed, such as Philippe Croizon the quadruple amputee’s wetsuit swim, Jackie Cobell’s longest ever one-way record, Phil Rush’s extraordinary three-way, Kevin Murphy’s 50+ hour swim, and the tragic loss of seven swimmers over the decades and others.

The English Channel retains its primacy not least because of this long illustrious and shared history.

A brief guide to the history of English Channel Swimming

There are plenty of Channel Aspirant bloggers and others out there who might want to use this to explain the historical context of their Channel Dream and you are welcome to so do.

(I also have a high-resolution print-ready version available, just use the Contact form on the About page).

Edit: The image has been changed, as apparently I needed to learn to increase the text and background contrast for people with colour perception difficulties. Thanks for the feedback.

Share this image on your site:

Simply input the Embed code below into your article according to your blog platform instructions and include attribution to LoneSwimmer.com. The image will display on your website with a built-in link. If you have any problems it’s also available on Visual.ly.



<a href='http://wp.me/pMhWJ-366'><img src='https://loneswimmer.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/a-brief-guide-to-the-history-of-english-channel-swimming11.jpg?w=410' alt='A brief guide to the history of English Channel swimming' width='540px' border='0' /></a>



5 thoughts on “A short history of English Channel Swimming [Infographic]

  1. Pingback: Critical Appraisal

    • Thank you Ted, I’m pleased you are pleased. While it feels odd to say it in these circumstances, my condolences for your loss. Jon was someone (like yourself) I’d always wanted to meet and he was a great loss to the sport.


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