On this day: British captain swims the English Channel

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Serving as captain of a steamship, Matthew Webb quit his post and sought to rectify J.B. Johnson’s failure to successfully swim the English Channel.

Inspired, he began an arduous training regime at Lambeth Baths before practicing in the Thames, English Channel and Hollingworth Lake.

Webb had attempted to complete his first cross-channel two weeks prior but strong winds and sea conditions deemed too harsh for the Englishman, who abandoned his swim. With conditions relatively stable, smeared in porpoise oil and three precautionary escort boats, he began his second attempt from Dover’s Admiratly Pier on a steady breaststroke.

Strong currents and jellyfish stings hindered his performance for five hours but after 21 hours and 45 minutes, he managed to land near Calais, thus completing the first-ever successful 64km cross-channel swim.

Basking in international adulation, Matthew Webb embarked on a professional swimming career, often participating in exhibition swimming matches and stunts such floating in a tank of water for 128 hours.

Other momentous events on this day:

1999: Sunderland enjoyed a famous 2-1 win at arch-rivals Newcastle. United boss Ruud Gullit left striker Alan Shearer on the bench as his side went down to goals from Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips.

2004: Arsenal set a new English top-flight record of 43 matches unbeaten with a 3-0 win over Blackburn at Highbury.

2014: Liverpool sealed one of the shock signings of the summer after confirming Mario Balotelli’s arrival from AC Milan in a reported £16 million deal.

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Happy Birthday: Thomas, Drew, Matthew

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Birthdays - August 25

The Australian swimmer famously achieved Olympic gold on numerous occasions and won 15 titles in her nation’s name.

Petria Thomas, who turns 40 today, began her Olympic dream frequently being outshone by rival Susie O’Neill, notably during her Olympic debut in the 1996 Atlanta Games where she secured silver.

With the knowledge Athens 2004 was going to be her third and final Olympic appearance, Thomas didn’t pass up the opportunity and soon made Olympic history.

Despite her age, ankle and shoulder reconstructions, the swimmer seemingly unfazed battled to claim a pole position finish in the 100m butterfly, seize silver in the 200m equivalent, and finally with Jodie Henry, Libby Lenton and Alice Mills win the 4 x 100m freestyle relay race.

In total, the Australian collected three gold medals including four silvers and a bronze. Her accolades earned the respect and praise of her nation as she was inducted into the Australian Institute of Sport Swimming Hall of Fame and Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

More sports personalities born on this day:

1969: Catriona Matthew, former Women’s British Open and Solheim Cup winner who competed at the Rio Olympics. (47)

1970: Adrian Lam, former Wigan scrum-half and current head coach of Papua New Guinea. (46)

1975: Brad Drew, former Huddersfield and Wakefield hooker. (41)

1979: Marlon Harewood, widely-travelled striker whose former clubs included West Ham and Nottingham Forest. (37)

1987: Justin Upton, hard-hitting MLB outfielder who was named to two All-Star teams with the Arizona Diamondbacks between 2007 and 2012. (29)

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Today's birthdays: Denilson, Shanahan & Torrance

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(L-R): Mike Shanahan, Denilson and Sam Torrance.

The Brazilian was a hugely talented left winger who enjoyed huge success during his 16-year professional career.

Denilson, who turns 39 today, first caught the eye during a highly successful four-year spell at Sao Paolo, for whom he scored 58 goals in 110 appearances.

He then attracted the attention of the world during the 1997 Copa America with numerous noteworthy performances for A Seleção.

Soon, foreign clubs came calling and Denilson was ssigned up by Real Betis, becoming the most expensive player at £21.5m.

At the national level, Denilson earned more than 60 caps for Brazil, making his full debut before his 20th birthday.

He took part in six international tournaments, including two World Cups (winning the 2002 edition), the 1997 Copa America and the 1997 Confederations Cup, winning both.

More sports stars who were born on this day:

1952: Mike Shanahan, former NFL coach who led Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl wins. (64)

1953: Sam Torrance, former European Ryder Cup captain with 21 Tour wins. (63)

1967: Michael Thomas, former Arsenal, Liverpool and England midfielder. (49)

1982: Jose Bosingwa, Portugal’s former Chelsea full-back now with Turkish side Trabzonspor. (34)

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