SOME ENGLISH CHANNEL SWIMMERS.
Sixty attempts have now been made to swim the Channel. J. B. Robinson was the first to try, and Captain Webb's success, after one failure, was the third of the series. Since then great efforts have been made by Holbein, who, a few years ago swam to within half a mile of the land at St. Margaret's Bay, and Wolfe, who, on September 14th, 1908, actually succeeded in getting inside Calais Pier, when he rolled over exhausted. Last season Burgess made two characteristic efforts in the middle of August, and others who tried were James Mearns, of Aberdeen; Paulas, the French ex-champion; Jack Wolfe and Burgess did the best. Holbein was unable to make his usual an nual effort, the weather cheating him after he had made all preparations. It was also said that Jarvis would make an attempt, but that did not happen. Impossible as the task would appear to be, all the men who have tried—and Ho1bein, Wolfe and Burgess are one on the matter—agree that there is no reason why the Channel should not be swam. They say, give them the day and just the luck that is wanted and they will go through. The difficulty years ago was weathering the Varne. That does not worry the men now, but there is something else—the waters that swirl round both the English and French coasts. But for these the Channel would have been swam sev eral times. It has been in fighting his way through these waters that the swimmer's strength has become exhausted and causes him to give in. I append a summary of the thirteen attempts made in 1908: July 6th, 1908.—J. Wolfe made the first at tempt of the season. He entered the water at the South Foreland, and for the first time in connec tion with Channel swimming was assisted by a French pilot, who was to map out the course in the event of his getting adjacent to the French shore. He remained in the water fourteen hours, by which time he was off Blanc Nez, and within four miles of the French coast. Then, as the easterly current was drifting him towards the North Sea, he retired, after having by swim and drift covered 35 miles.
July 23rd, 1908.—J. Wolfe made his first attempt from the French coast, starting from almost. the identical place on Calais Sands where Captain Webb completed his swim. He was in the water thirteen hours and had got to within six miles of the English coast when, owing to his old leg trouble, he had to retire. At the time the current was driving him back into the Channel.
August 8th, 1908.—James Mearns, an Aberdeen swimmer, made his first attempt. He entered the water at the South Foreland, and swam for just over fourteen hours, when the weather changed and caused the water to become very choppy; he tired, and when four miles from the French coast was taken from the water in an exhausted state.
August 12th, 1908.—Paulus, a French excham pion swimmer, made an attempt. He started from the Admiralty Pier at Dover in a rough sea that at once swept him away from the tug. There was
great anxiety caused by this, and from the out set there was no prospect of his succeeding. After four hours he became unwell, and when seven miles off Folkestone was hauled out of the water.
August 17th and 18th, 1908.—T. W. Burgess made an attempt from St. Margaret's Bay. After swimming in magnificent form for 20 hours and 11 minutes, and getting to within half a mile of Cape Grisnez, the offset prevented him from mak ing further headway, and compelled him to retire when fit and strong. A wait of six hours might have enabled him to succeed, but Burgess stated that he was not strong enough for that.
August 19th, 1908.—Jack Rees, a Welsh swim mer, made an attempt from the South Foreland, but after pan immersion of three hours, during which he swam five miles from the land, he was taken ill and retired.
August 21st and 22nd, 1908.—T. W. Burgess made another attempt. He started from St. Mar garet's Bay, and after a remarkable swim of hours in which, with swim and drift, he covered sixty miles, retired one mile from Gravelines. The swim extended into five tides, three complete tides and two sections of ebb tide at the start and finish. A sudden change in the wind to the east spoilt his chance of succeeding in 24 hours, which is his limit.
August 23rd, 1908.—James Mearns made his second attempt. He swam well at the start, but after two hours a gale of wind came up, and on the advice of the captain of the tug the effort was abandoned. He had then covered eight miles in three hours and ten minutes.
September 7th, 1908.—James Mearns made an attempt from the beach at Shakespeare Cliff. He swam hours and covered fourteen miles. Owing to the choppy sea, he was seized with inter nal pains and retired.
September 8th, 1908.—T. W. Burgess made an attempt from the South Foreland. On this occa sion he had swam ten miles in four hours, when the weather, having become so rough that the tug shipped numerous seas, he, on the advice of his pilot, retired.
September 8th, 1908.—Fred. Kearsley, of Lan cashire, made an attempt from Sandgate, but owing to a change in the weather the sea became so very rough that after two hours he was pre vailed upon to retire. He had covered five miles.
September 19th, 1908.—J. Wolfe made a mag nificent effort, and in 14 hours and 55 minutes swam from Shakespeare Cliff to within a quarter of a mile of the French coast, being taken out of the water to the west of and inside Calais Peir. He showed excellent form, and in ideal weather made excellent progress until he became thorough ly exhausted, and had to be picked out of the water. He was kept going with oxygen for some time.
A competing team of British, Australian, French and American swimmers would no doubt bring out the man to defeat this torturous pass age, and it is hoped Canada, from where the idea emanates, will enter the field in an endeavor to obtain this laurel of thewinaming world.