Henry Sullivan And His Alexander Channel Cup

Henry Sullivan And His Alexander Channel Cup

Henry Sullivan, in a era when easy transatlantic transportation was not available, attempted to swim the English Channel seven times. He traveled by ship each time across the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to England, a reported US$5,000 travel bill for each crossing back in the 1920s.

Weeks across the Atlantic in a ship was finally followed by a successful 26 hour 50 minute crossing of the English Channel in 1923, on his seventh attempt.

While the Royal Geographic Society, founded in 1830, and the Alpine Club, founded in London in 1857, encouraged and sponsored research and expeditions, there was – and has been – no such established encouragement or formal sponsorship of open water swimmers. Their drive comes from within.

In the name of science, ego or fortune, many have explored and conquered mountains, rain forests, deserts, plains, rivers, coastlines, islands and seas. But this does not exist in the open water swimming world, a foreign activity to scientists, researchers, financial supporters and corporations.

While men and women have formally commentated, charted, crossed and conquered all types of terra firma on behalf of science and history, much less documentation was created by the open water swimming world.

But documentation of the sport is rapidly exploding by those who chart and document their aquatic exploits and challenges online via blogs, websites and email. Henry, whose exploits were documented by the media of his day, lived in a time when interest was in the exploration of human endurance was abundant – and Henry had it in abundance.

The George V sterling silver trophy was made by Elkington & Co. and is known as The Alexander Channel Cup. It is a 3-foot silver trophy that was presented to Henry for being the first American to swim the English Channel, a beautiful award for an incredible individual.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source