Swimming

Thomas William "Bill" Burgess — Second Person to Swim Across the English Channel

12/19/2016
Updated
09/12/2017

Thomas William Burgess got up on the morning of September 5, 1911, ready to make history. Having already tried and failed 15 times before, he knew what he was up against. He wanted to become the second person to swim across the English Channel, and the first to do so since 1875 when Captain Matthew Webb breast-stroked his way across the difficult waterway.

After a “good English breakfast” of ham and eggs, Burgess entered the water near the South Foreland light house in Dover, England, at 11:15 AM, and accompanied by a support boat, he began his swim in earnest heading southeast toward the French coast. Burgess would not touch land again for another 22 hours and 35 minutes, which to most rational people would be a ridiculous amount of time to spend in cold salty water.