In 1964 at age 15, Kevin Murphy, completed his first long distance swim - 6 hours 29 minutes for the 10 miles of Lake Windermere. The photos above show him feeding at Belle Isle during that Windermere swim. In 1968, he completed his first Channel swim - England to France in 15:15. Also in 1968, he placed second to Barry Watson with a time of 14:38 in the Two-Way Windermere championship. At that time Barry held the France-England Channel record with a time of 9:35.
Two years later on August 15th, 1970, following in the footsteps of Antonio Abertondo and Ted Erikson, he became the third person to complete the two-way Channel swim in 35:10 - he completed a second two-way Channel in 36:03 in 1975. In the 1975 two-way swim, he was well on his way back for a third crossing before he was forced to retire.
In 1970, he became the second person ever to cross the notoriously cold, jellyfish-strewn, 22-mile-wide, North Channel that separates Scotland from Ireland. Kevin's North Channel swim started at 49-51°F and involved a maximum temperature of 57°F. Kevin's new record of 11:20 reduced Tom Blower's 1947 record by 4:06. This was just the start of a lifetime of marathon swimming achievements which included: a 27 hour, 56 mile, circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight in 1971; Majorca to Minorca inaugural record of 15:40 in 1972; Skegness to Hunstanton 13:54 in 52°F water in May 1973; 43:10 to complete the 50 miles of Lake Balaton in Hungary in August 1973; and so on. . .
32 years after his first Channel success, Kevin, at age 51, completed his 32nd crossing of the English Channel on the 6th October, 2000, in a time of 15:10 - faster than his first crossing in 1968 ! He thereby became King of The Channel - setting a new record for the most successful Channel swims by a man, and breaking the tie he had held with Mike Read since July 2000.
Mike had been rumoured to be coming out of 'retirement', but never managed to find the right conditions for a new attempt.
In 2000, Kevin planned to keep going and had set a target of 35 swims, but was realistic about overtaking the Queen of The Channel, Alison Streeter, who had completed her 39th crossing that year. "To catch her I'll probably need a Zimmer frame", joked Kevin.
In 2002, Michael Read drew level with Kevin in completing 32 crossings. In July 2004, Michael again drew ahead and took the title of King with 33 crossings.
In 2003, Kevin was active in swims in North America - completing the Alcatraz swim and crossing both Lake Tahoe and The Catalina Channel.
On 29 August 2005, Kevin completed his 33rd crossing in 13:31, to equal Mike Read's total as King of The Channel. Just 18 months after having shoulder surgery, Kevin was back in form with his determination of old.
In 2006, Kevin took on the Presidency of the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation and, on July 21st made it number 34, with a E-F time of 15:14, and took back the King of The Channel title.
Original report was compiled from material provided by the BLDSA Publicity Officer, Nat Mason, BLDSA annual reports, and photographs taken in 1964 by Bryan Finlay.
2003 Update on Kevin's Swims
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Created: 1st November 2000
Last Updated: 30th September 2006