The Spectator

How many people have swum the Channel?

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Journey’s end

Holidaymakers are being flown home after travel company Thomas Cook failed. The idea might have horrified the company’s eponymous founder, whose first excursion was a temperance outing from Leicester to Loughborough on 5 July 1841, on a charter train from the Midland Railway Company. All 500 tickets were swiftly sold. A holiday from Leicester to Liverpool and North Wales followed in 1845, including several nights in temperance hotels and a night-time ascent of Snowdon. Thomas Cook went on to organise trips to the 1851 Great Exhibition for 150,000 from the Midlands.

Financial health

A Labour activist and parent of a patient accused the Prime Minister on a visit to a London hospital of ‘destroying’ the NHS. How has the budget for health and social care in England changed since the last Labour government left office in 2010? (At 2018/19 prices)

2010/11

£117bn

2011/12

£118bn

2012/13

£119bn

2013/14

£122bn

2014/15

£124bn

2015/16

£127bn

2016/17

£128bn

2017/18

£130bn

2018/19

£133bn

2019/20

£139bn

Source: King’s Fund

Going nuclear

Which European countries generate the highest proportion of their electricity from nuclear?

France

75%

Slovakia

53%

Belgium

51%

Ukraine, Hungary

46%

Sweden

38%

UK

21%

Spain

20%

Source: International Energy Agency

Channel bobbing

Sarah Thomas, an American, became the first person to swim the Channel four times in succession. How many people have swum the Channel?

— There have been 2,373 successful solo swims since Matthew Webb in 1875; 63.1% have been by men, 36.9% by women.

— The average age of a successful swimmer is 35 years and 131 days.

32% came from the UK, 17% from the US and 9% from Australia.

— The average time is 13 hours, 32 mins.

— The most popular day is 22 August, with 66 successful crossings on that day.