This week we meet the verb “to swim”; and we also meet a famous swimmer, called Captain Webb. The verb “to swim” is one of a very small group of English verbs where there are three different vowel sounds in three different tenses, like this:
I have swum
The other common verb which is like this is “to sing” (I sing, I sang, I have sung).
A few weeks ago, I watched a television programme. A woman who was on the programme said that, when she was younger, she had swum the Channel. What does that mean?
“The Channel” is the sea which lies between England and France. Its proper name is “The English Channel” but normally in English we talk about “The Channel”. We talk about “crossing the Channel”, which means that we are going to visit France or Belgium or another country on the mainland of Europe. The Channel is about 22 miles or 36 kilometres wide at its narrowest point, between Dover in England and Calais in France. There are regular ferries across the Channel, and a huge number of ships pass through the Channel on their way to ports in Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. And some people swim across the Channel.
Speaking personally, I do not enjoy swimming very much and I think that people who swim the Channel must be either very brave or very foolish. The English Channel is cold. It is also not very clean, and there are lots of ships which might hit someone swimming. But the distance across the Channel is about as far as it is possible for someone to swim in the sea. So it is a bit like Mount Everest – it is the big challenge, the final goal, for people who are keen on long-distance swimming.
The first person to swim across the Channel was Captain Matthew Webb. He was 29 years old when he swam from England to France in August 1875. The crossing took him rather under 22 hours. His swim across the Channel made Captain Webb famous. There is a picture of him on the website, and – I hope – on your iPod screens. The Victorians liked their heroes to be tall, upright and handsome, and to wear a moustache; and you will see that Captain Webb is indeed tall, upright and handsome, and that he has a moustache. I think incidentally that the photographer who took the photo was working in a studio, and that the waves and the sea behind Captain Webb are painted and not real.
Fifty years after Captain Webb’s great swim, only about 10 other people had managed to swim the Channel. It is interesting that nearly always they swam from England to France, and not the other way. Why? I have no idea! Since the 1920s many more people – about 1000 altogether – have made the great swim, including some who have swum from England to France and then back again. Modern swimmers swim much faster than Captain Webb – the fastest swim, by Petar Stoychev in August last year, took under 7 hours, only a third of Captain Webb’s time. A woman called Alison Streeter has swum the Channel a record 43 times; in fact, in 1992 alone she swam the Channel 7 times.
And what happened to Captain Webb? Did he live to an old age, so that he could tell his grandchildren all about his great swim to France? I am afraid not. He became a professional swimmer, and wrote a book about – can you guess? – How to Swim. A brand of matches was named after him – there is a picture of a box of Captain Webb matches on the website. He did stunts like floating in a tank of water for 128 hours. And in 1883, 8 years after his Channel swim, he decided to swim across the Niagara River, between Canada and the USA, just below the Niagara Falls where the water is dangerous and fast flowing. Within a few minutes he had disappeared; his body was found four days later. It was a sad end for a very remarkable man.
1 what the cross and between through diffrent
2. What is fifty shown I cannot understand that .
3. what the rather under 22 hours; espacaily rather meaning and where we can use it.
4.What's the explation of only of third captan webb tim.
5. Just below the Niagara fall.
Please can you explan with easy exmple that I can understan well
There are regular ferries across the Channel, and a huge number of ships pass through the Channel on their way to ports in Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.
1 what the cross and between through different
"across" = the ferries go from one side of the Channel [England] to the other side [France] [west to east or east to west].
The ships that go through the Channel are moving up it from south to north or from north to south.
Fifty years after Captain Webb’s great swim
2. What is fifty shown I cannot understand that .
During the fifty years following Captain Webb's swim across the Channel, only another ten people also swam across the Channel.
The crossing took him rather under 22 hours.
3. what is "rather under 22 hours"; especially rather meaning and where we can use it.
"rather under 22 hours" - it could be 21 and one half hours, or 21 and three-quarter hours.
In this context it means a small amount less.
only a third of Captain Webb’s time.
4.What's the explanation of only "a third of Captain Webb's time".
Captain Webb's swim took 21 hours to do. Petar Stoychev's swim was 7 hours. 7 hours is one third of 21 hours, so it is a third of the time that Captain Webb took to swim the Channel.
just below the Niagara Falls
5. Just below the Niagara Falls.
The Niagara Falls are a particularly large and notable waterfall on the border between Canada and the USA. Captain Webb tried to swim across the river at the bottom of the waterfall, where the waters are very dangerous.