Captain Mathew Webb
April 12, 2019
Captain Mathew Webb

Captain Mathew Webb is famous for his swimming abilities. At 12 years old, Matthew Webb enrolled as a sea cadet on the naval training ship, the HMS Conway in Liverpool, England.As he became an experienced sailor, he also became a very good swimmer.In the summer of 1863, at the age of 15, Webb saved his younger brother, Thomas, from drowning. Webb received a gold medal from the Royal Humane Society of Great Britain for lifesaving, ten years later. When a sailor who washed over board the Cunard steamer, "Russia", Webb jumped overboard to save him, but was unfortunately too late.On August 25, 1875, 27 year old Webb was the first person to swim the English Channel from Dover to Calais. During this 25 mile (40.2 km), 22 hour journey, Webb did not use any flotation devices or artificial aids.8 years later, Webb came to Niagara Falls with the sole purpose of challenging the Niagara River Whirlpool Rapids. If he could successfully swim through the class 6 rapids, he would receive a $2,000 reward. Webb inspected the rapids and decided he would be able to do it.Even though many warned him against it, Webb was so confident in his swimming abilities that he believed he could conquer the rapids and finish unscathed.On July 24th 1883, Captain Webb was rowed out from the Maid of the Mist landing to the middle of the Niagara River. At 4:25 p.m., Webb dove into the river near the Niagara Falls Suspension bridge and began swimming towards the Whirlpool Rapids with no life preserver.Many spectators lined the River banks and bridge.There is a major debate as to whether Captain Webb made it through the rapids. Some eye witnesses believe that he made the trip through the rapids, but was drawn underwater at the Whirlpool. Others said that Captain Webb drowned in the rapids before he made it to the whirlpool. Either way, four days later Captain Webb's body was recovered near Queenston. Webb was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Niagara Falls, New York.Captain Webb’s motto: "Nothing great is easy."

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