English Channel

arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France

The English Channel is a body of water that separates the island of Great Britain from the rest of Europe. People who live in the UK and want to visit Europe, or people from Europe who want to visit the UK, can take a ferry across or ride a train under the channel in a special tunnel called the Channel Tunnel (nicknamed the Chunnel). Both the ferries and trains carry cars. It is 563 km long, 246 km wide, and its narrowest part (34 km) is the Strait of Dover. On a clear day, it is possible to see the cliffs of Dover from Calais on the French side.

In 1875, Matthew Webb became the first known person to swim the English Channel, crossing it in just under 22 hours. The first woman to do this was Gertrude Ederle. In 2004, over 600 people were recorded making the crossing. The fastest time was achieved by Bulgarian swimmer Peter Stoychev in 2007, who managed it in 7 hours. Recently, officials have outlawed swimming in the English Channel.

In France, it is known as La manche (The Sleeve).