Unveiling of commemorative bust of Captain Webb from 1887 Dover Year Book
CAPTAIN WEBB'S GREAT SWIM
The most famous feat of swimming recorded in the world's history was that of Captain Matthew Webb, who swam from Dover to Calais commencing on the 24th and ending on the 25th August, 1875. Captain Webb is a native of Shropshire, was a sailor, and has been several years in the Merchant Service. His first great swim was from Dover to Ramsgate on the 20th July, 1875, which he accomplished in eight hours and forty minutes. On the 12th of August, the same year, he attempted, unaided by artificial contrivance, to swim from England to France, starting at five o'clock in the afternoon but a storm coming on he gave it up, after being in the water six hours and forty-nine minutes. After waiting a fortnight for the next neap tides, Webb started again on the 24th August, at four minutes to one in the afternoon, accompanied by a lugger, conveying friends and Press representatives. Webb swam stoutly until nine in the evening, when he became rather faint, but he rallied and went on again, taking refreshment occasionally, and at day-break the next morning the French coast was near; but the wind rising and the tide turning to the east he was unable to make shore until he drifted opposite Calais, when he touched land thoroughly exhausted, after swimming twenty one and three quarter hours.