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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Open Water Swimming With Hammerheads

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Back in 1994, a solo circumnavigation of Yonaguni Island, the westernmost part of Japan only 110 km from Taiwan, was accomplished by Steven Munatones - but he was not alone.

The silver bodies of hundreds of hammerhead sharks circled below the swimmer and his two escort boats, each manned with look-outs stationed at the bow and stern. It was more than a bit disconcerting for everyone, but the distance between the sharks and the swimmer provided a visible barrier in the crystal-clear waters. Silently and gracefully moving in natural habitat, the hammerheads majestically roamed their territory, seemingly oblivious to the swimmer churning above on the surface of the azul sea.

But their silhouettes were eerily apparent for scary moments throughout the marathon swim.

Along with schools of barracuda and tuna, turtles galore were also seen gently gliding below the swimmer throughout the 7 hour 8 minute 29 km circumnavigation. With tricky currents throughout, there was much to navigate along the coastline as the scenery below the water's surface is spectacular with numerous oddly-shaped caverns, caves and rock formations.

Getting to Yonaguni Island requires a flight to a major airport in Japan and then another flight to Naha, the capital city of Okinawa.

From there, a boat or a flight on small aircraft can put the interested vacationer, swimmer or diver on a jewel of an island with locals to hospitable and knowledgeable as to make any stay a memory of a lifetime.

Copyright © 2011 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

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The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.

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