The English Channel is the body of water separating England and France, and the 33.2 km (20.6-mile) swim across it is arguably the world's most historically significant and iconic marathon swim. The standards and traditions of Channel swimming directly inspired the global sport of unassisted Marathon Swimming.
Capt. Matthew Webb was the first to swim across the Channel, unassisted by artificial swim aids, in 1875. Gertrude Ederle was the first woman to cross in 1926. Since then over 1,800 swimmers have completed over 2,500 solo Channel swims.
Two organizations have exclusive authority to sanction cross-Channel swims: the Channel Swimming Association (CSA, founded 1927) and the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation (CS&PF, founded 1999). The English Channel swim forms part of both the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming and the Oceans Seven.