On this day, August 25, in 1875 Captain Matthew Webb became the first man to swim across the English Channel. Smeared in porpoise oil and despite stings from jellyfish he swam from Dover to Calais in 21 hours and 45 minutes.
In 1883 he attempted to swim across the Niagara River just below Niagara Falls. Many though the stunt was tantamount to suicide. They were right. He was drowned in the whirlpool.
His memorial stone in Dawley, Shropshire, England has the inscription, "Nothing great is easy."
Captain Webb is also commemorated in John Betjeman's poem "A Shropshire Lad."