The English Channel is the stretch of water that lies between the south-east of England, and the north-west of France. At its narrowest point, it is only 21 miles wide. Due to this, it is a popular challenge for serious swimmers to undertake.

The first person to swim the Channel was Captain Matthew Webb. On 24 August 1875 he began his journey, one that lasted nearly 22 hours. The youngest people to swim the Channel have been only 12 years of age. Even in summer the water is colder than is comfortable for swimming. People attempting to swim the channel are escorted by boats, both to rescue them if they cannot continue, and to guard against the busy shipping in the area.

The Channel is a relatively recent feature in geological terms. Its depth is never very great, so in the last ice ages, when the sea level dropped due to glacier formation on land the sea bed was uncovered, and it was possible to walk from England to France.

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