Daily Almanac for Thursday, August 25, 2022

On this date in 1875, British swimmer Matthew Webb was the first documented person to swim across the English Channel. This is Captain Matthew Webb in July 1883. By Illustrated London News – Royal Museums Greenwich, CC BY-SA 3.0, https commons.wikimedia.org


Captain Matthew Webb (19 January 1848 – 24 July 1883) was an English swimmer and stuntman. He is the first recorded person to swim the English Channel for sport without the use of artificial aids. In 1875, Webb swam from Dover to Calais in less than 22 hours. This made him a celebrity, and he performed many stunts in public. He died trying to swim the Whirlpool Rapids below Niagara Falls, a feat declared impossible.

English Channel swimming record

In 1873, Webb was serving as captain of the steamship Emerald when he read an account of the failed attempt by J. B. Johnson to swim the English Channel. He became inspired to try, and left his job to begin training, first at Lambeth Baths, then in the cold waters of the Thames, the English Channel and Hollingworth Lake. His early training was backed by Fred Beckwith who was the “Professor” at Lambeth Baths. Beckwith organised a spectacle by showing Webb swimming miles in the River Thames. Webb completed ‘nearly six miles’ (10 km), but the poor public interest meant that Beckwith lost money. As a result, Webb took another manager.

On 12 August 1875, Webb made his first cross-Channel swimming attempt, but strong winds and poor sea conditions forced him to abandon the swim. On 24 August, he began a second swim by diving in from the Admiralty Pier at Dover. Backed by three escort boats and smeared in porpoise oil, he set off into the ebb tide at a steady breaststroke. Despite stings from jellyfish and strong currents off Cap Gris Nez which prevented him from reaching the shore for five hours, finally, after approximately 21 hours and 40 minutes, he landed near Calais—the first successful cross-channel swim. His zig-zag course across the Channel was nearly 40 miles (66 km) long.

He was the first swimmer to complete a Channel swim without artificial aid; in June 1875, American Paul Boyton had swum across in 24 hours but was wearing an inflatable suit.

English Channel Map. By Nzeemin – TOPO30 data for coastline, rivers and bordersOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https commons.wikimedia.org


Question of the Day

Can I use peanut shells as mulch in my garden?

Peanut shells are great for mulching. They are a terrific source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Add some cottonseed meal to ground or broken-up peanut shells to help them decompose and prevent them from compacting after a rain, then apply as you would any mulch.

Advice of the Day

To dream of a plow indicates a new project.

Home Hint of the Day

To remove a tick attached to a dog, first loosen the tick’s grip by placing a drop of vegetable or mineral oil on it. Then pull gently but steadily on the tick to remove it intact. Just pulling with tweezers often leaves the jaws or head behind.

Word of the Day


The erroneous or fanciful perception of a pattern or meaning in something that is actually ambiguous or random — like the Man in the Moon or animals in cloud formations or religious images in tortillas.

Puzzle of the Day

The Magnolia State.(Name the U.S. state!)



  • Ivan IV of Russia (Ivan the Terrible”“) – 1530
  • Bret Harte (author) – 1836
  • Walt Kelly (Pogo cartoonist) – 1913
  • Mel Ferrer (actor) – 1917
  • Leonard Bernstein (composer) – 1918
  • Althea Gibson (first African American female tennis player to compete in U.S. championships in 1950 and in Wimbeldon a year later) – 1927
  • Sean Connery (actor) – 1930
  • Tom Skerritt (actor) – 1933
  • Elvis Costello (musician) – 1954
  • Tim Burton (film director, producer, screenwriter) – 1958
  • Blair Underwood (actor) – 1964
  • Rachael Ray (chef) – 1968
  • Rachel Bilson (actress) – 1981
  • Blake Lively (actress) – 1987
  • Stacey Farber (actress) – 1987


  • Samatha Smith (an American schoolgirl who received world-wide attention for writing to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov) – 1985
  • Carl Barks (illustrator of Donald Duck) – 2000
  • Edward Moore Kennedy (politician) – 2009
  • Neil Armstrong (astronaut; first to set foot on the Moon) – 2012
  • John McCain (U.S. senator) – 2018


  • 3 women die for witchcraft near Exeter, England– 1682
  • Hundreds of French colonists arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana. This date is considered by some to be when the city was founded. Others historians consider the event to have happened earlier, such as in May.– 1718
  • Hoax about life on the Moon printed in The New York Sun– 1835
  • British swimmer Matthew Webb was the first documented person to swim across the English Channel– 1875
  • President Theodore Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to descend in a submarine– 1905
  • National Park Service established– 1916
  • First parachute wedding took place, in New York City– 1940
  • Paris was liberated. German occupying-officer General Deitrick von Choltitz surrendered to French Major General Jacques Le Clerc– 1944
  • Baptist missionary and U.S. Army intelligence officer John Birch was executed as a spy by Chinese Communists– 1945
  • Closest approach to Saturn by Voyager 2– 1981
  • Closest approach of Voyager-2 to Neptune– 1989
  • Largest (60 million cubic feet) successfully launched NASA balloon set a world record– 2002
  • Two passenger jets that flew out of Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport within 40 minutes of each other crashed within three or four minutes of each other, killing nearly 100 people– 2004
  • An early morning 4.5-magnitude aftershock centered 31 miles east of Charlottesville, struck 2 days after an initial 5.8-magnitude quake in Virginia. The aftershock was felt as far away as Pennsylvania and New York.– 2011


  • Madison, Wisconsin, reported a low temperature of 37 degrees F– 1958
  • Hurricane Harvey, category 4, makes landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas.– 2017

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