On an August day in 1968, wearing his cap and goggles, Kevin Murphy stood on the stony Folkstone’s Shakespeare beach ready for his first crossing as a swimmer of the English Channel. During the next 41 years, he successfully completed the Channel a total of 34 times, making him The King of the English Channel with the most crossings by a male. Murphy became one of the greatest solo swimmers of all time.
In 1970, 1975 and 1987, he completed two-way swims of the Channel. He challenged uncharted cold waters in 1970, swimming from Northern Ireland to Scotland in 11 hours and 21 minutes in water 10 degrees C, a record that stood for 18 years. In 1989, he repeated the Irish Sea swim. He set an inaugural record for swimming56 miles around the Isle of Wright in 26 hours and 51 minutes. He spent 52 hours and 30 minutes in the English Channel trying for a triple crossing, but ending just short of the goal with a double crossing.
Murphy is the only man to have completed three two-way crossings of the English Channel. He swam frigid Lake Windermere seven times, including a double crossing in 1969. Many of his swims he completed multiple times. He has completed over 73 swims of 10 miles or more, with the majority of them over 21 miles.
His swims include Loch Lomond, Loch Ness and Bristol Channel in Britain; Lake Tahoe, Catalina Channel, Chicago Shore Line and around Manhattan in the United States; Lake Balaton in Hungary (a total of 48 miles); Capri to Naples, Lake Hergozzo and Lake Como (six times) in Italy; The Nile Marathon in Egypt; the Spanish Balearic Island, and 22 other international swims.