Courtesy of @captainmatthewwebb, Huntington Beach, California.

If Captain Matthew Webb and his support crew, led by A. G. Payne, had access to Twitter back in 1875 when he became the first person to swim across the English Channel in 21 hours 45 minutes, this is what we imagine he and his crew may have tweeted:

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
No wind, no waves, little tide. Fortunate to be here compared to August 12. Waiting to start at 1 o’clock

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
Fate has intervened. Sea has changed. Attempt to be postponed.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
Heading to bed. Big day tomorrow.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
Can’t sleep. Too nervous.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
Lugger is getting prepared. Provisions added w/ bacon, basket of eggs.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
Porpoise grease is put on. Greasy mess, but its a beautiful, bright, sunny day at Admiralty Pier. Sea flat. Team is ready at nearly 1 o’clock.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
Tides running towards Folkestone. Drifting, but only slightly. No more than a mile and a half.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
2 pm, Webb heading out to the Channel with an ebb tide. Hazy afternoon with flat conditions. Lots of well-wishers around. #Channel

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
2:45 pm – Webb stroking at 22 strokes per minute. He can maintain this speed for hours in these conditions. #breaststroke

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
3 pm, several porpoises abound, some close in on Webb. Could they be attracted to Webb’s porpoise grease?

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
Surgeon-major from Dover comes out to visit on a small rowing boat. Wants to come aboard, but he was turned back.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
Jellyfish or water-starches as the sailors call them are blue. Some are white. Yellow ones are painful. #jellyfish

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
3:30 pm, tides have turned. 4 miles from shore. Lots of shoals of fish within 50 yards of #lugger.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
4 pm, Can still see Dover Castle through the haze. Oars power the lugger forward as Webb pushes on after taking his 1st refreshment.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
Webb downs strong beef tea as the Channel remains glassy. Mr. Toms is quite the pilot. Webb remains chatty, moving strongly. #Channel

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
Webb swimming closely to the little boat. Lugger also keeps close to Webb. No wind to speak of. Webb takes some coffee.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
6 pm, Baker readies next pot of tea. Small rowing boat coming. Baker prepared bread and omelette. Rower jumps in and swims at Webb’s side for 10 minutes. #paceswimmer

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
7 pm, Sun is setting. Sunset reigns gloriously over glassy sea. But crew is feeling sleepy. Oars sound rhythmically. #escortboat

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
We eat cold chicken, cold meat and salad. Downed quickly. Webb remains swimming at 20 strokes per minute. #breaststroke

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
Webb looks like he will do or die out here as the sun disappears. Phosphorescent sea is beautiful. Webb’s strokes on strongly.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
9 pm, No complains from Webb after 8 hours of strong swimming. Webb yells out I AM STUNG. Panic? No, brandy. #jellyfish

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
Webb says he feels all right. He continues on without complaint.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
10 pm, small tug comes from Dover to check Webb’s progress. Nothing but the rhythmic sounds of the oars continue. Sea is perfectly smooth.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 24
11:45 pm, Calais steamer comes within 100 yards of us. Cheers to Webb. The red light shines on Webb’s face between his 2 little rowing boats and lugger. #calais

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
12 pm, moon is risen and sky clear. Webb is clearly seen from the lugger. About 13 miles from Dover. #dover

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
1 am, Webb still at 20 strokes per minute. No refreshments requested.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
2 am, Can see white chalk cliffs near Cap Gris Nez. Cap lit up by the moon. #france Webb cheered up by the shore.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
2:10 am, 3 miles from Cap Gris Nez. Webb starting to fatigue after in the water for 13 hours. Baker ready to jump in.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
Baker is ready to jump in and swim by Webb’s side.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
3 am, Webb given beef tea before tide will soon turn. At 16 strokes per minute, he is steadily fatiguing.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
3:45 pm, Tide is not on our side. Webb is disappointed and tired, but he swims on.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
4 am, Daylight brings food for Webb. He drank coffee, beef tea, cod liver oil, but no food yet. Referee tells Webb to rest his hand on his cousin Ward’s arm in the water.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
Webb refuses advice of referee. He swims on.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
5 am, daylight comes with sunrise and haze. After 14 hours, Webb expected to finish. It is now 16 hours in. Mentally and physically exhausted.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
Webb is drifting and much weaker than ever before. The tranquility of the sea is now interrupted with the wind.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
6:30 am, Chop disturbs Webb. Is all hope lost? Not yet.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
7:30 am, land is visible ahead, but is further away than before. Webb swims at 15 strokes per minute and falling back from shore.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
8 am, Webb takes beef tea and a sip of brandy. Mr. Toms tells Webb that he has 3 more hours to swim.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
9 am, wind increases. Webb has no chance of success. Tide sweeps around Cap Gris Nez. Now drifted off of Calais Pier. But Webb is very weak.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
10 am, Webb struggles on but is further away from shore than an hour ago. He barely moves forward. Kick is nearly non-existent. Fingers are open on his pull.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
Webb does not give up and is getting closer to the French shore. Tide has become slack as Baker dives in to swim with Webb.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
10:15 am, It may be possible. Webb is determined. But waves are frustratingly rough. About 200 yards from France but Webb is almost under the surface of the water.#breaststroke

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
12 strokes per minute. Maybe, if that. #courage

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
10:20 am, crowd has gathered on shore near the pier. People cheer and witness history.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
10:30 am, now 100 yards to France. Crew gets ready to help Webb when he touches land.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
10:37 am, Webb’s face is waterlogged with a salty crust. His neck is a red chaffed mess. #chafing

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
10:41 am, Cheers rise. Webb touches shore. Webb tries to stand, but falls forward in 3 feet of water. 2 men help Webb come ashore.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
Webb does it. Webb rolled in a rug is taken to Paris hotel Calais. Tears roll, Toms cries with crew.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
Crew heads to hotel where Webb is. Webb is sound asleep. Webb is given French port wine.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
1:45 pm, Webb awakes, eats fish and smoked a cigar. #victoryatsea

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 25
10 pm, Webb is sound asleep. A very well-deserved slumber.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 26
6 am, Webb awakes. We head back to Dover via the Castalia after being in an open boat all night.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 26
3:30 pm, Webb arrives in Dover. Tried but triumphant.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 26
I feel great to be back on British soil. It was the most thrilling moment to touch the French shore. What a life I have led to this point.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 26
Mr. Smith of University College Hospital believes more than 6 hours sleep is absolutely injurious.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 26
I joined the training ship Conway of Liverpool at the age of 12. Cried the first night on the ship. But remained on board for 2 years.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 26
At 14, sailed to Calcutta on board a ship called Cavour, but never slept for more than 4 hours at a time.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 26
I remember my 1st swimming opponent was a Newfoundland dog. We swam together for an hour and a half in the sea.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 26
But swimming across the Channel interested me after reading about Johnson’s attempt from Dover to Calais in 1872.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 26
In 1875, I first trained in the Channel by swimming 4 and a half hours to the Varne Buoy, 10 miles off Folkestone, escorted by a small boat.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 26
Then on July 3, swam 20 miles from Blackwell Pier to Gravesend in 4 hours 42 minutes, with the tide.#seaswimming

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 26
This helped spur me to continue training in Dover for longer and longer periods. #dover

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 26
After a 9 hour trial swim from Dover to Ramsgate, coated in cod liver oil, I announced my Channel attempt.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 26
In my 1st attempt, I used porpoise grease, recommended by the Editor of Land and Water.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 26
Over the last 2-3 hours, I never thought I would make the crossing of the Channel.

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 26
The chafing is unbearable. Cannot wear shirts with collars after swimming breaststroke for so long, nearly 22 hours.#nothinggreatiseasy

Matthew Webb @captainmatthewwebb · Aug 26
Looking forward to creating a nation of swimmers. Swimming is a means to save a life.

Photo above shows British actor Warren Brown who plays Captain Matthew Webb in the feature film The Greatest Englishman, produced by Marathon Films.

To view the film trailer, visit www.marathonfilms.co.uk.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association