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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Stephen Redmond Achieves The Oceans Seven

Today, Under the strangest and unlikeliest of circumstances in a far-away land, the remarkable Irishman Stephen Redmond completed the Tsugaru Channel in Japan to become the first person in history to achieve the Oceans Seven.

The 47-year-old former rugby player from Ireland entered the annals of marathon swimming history by completing the English Channel, North Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Catalina Channel, Cook Strait, Molokai Channel (on his second try) and the Tsugaru Channel (on his fourth try).

An unlikely, but likable swimming star, Redmond proves that training, passion and commitment will take one far in the world of open water swimming when he completed the Tsugaru Channel in 12 hours 45 minutes. But he acknowledges all the help he received from family, friends and his community in Ballydehob.

On the northwest corner of Honshu in the sparsely populated prefecture of Aomori where there are no supermarkets or convenience stores that are found in the big cities of Japan, the diet of the local fishing community consists of entirely of food from the nearby sea. Faced with meals of shark brain, octopus, squid, raw fish, seaweed and clams, Redmond existed primarily on water with white bread and butter for the week leading up to his swim. But with a forced diet and a laser-focused mind, he endured a third aborted swim and was resigned to go home a failure.

He was truly a troubled man whose heavy heart was filled with worry. The light at the end of his Oceans Seven tunnel seemed to be extinguished. "I just can't go home. Too many people have supported me," he said repeatedly with heartfelt conviction and deep creases in his wrinkled brow. "I cannot fail. This [Tsugaru] Channel will be the death of me. You just don't know what this [failure] would do to me." On his last day in Japan, he packed his bags with a depression that was palpable. Zipping up his luggage, the end never seemed so near. His broad shoulders nearly seemed to sag to his waist; his eyes were pleading for mercy.

But the man of deep faith whose many supporters prayed feverishly for him in Ireland looked out once more at the Tsugaru Channel from his hotel room facing the previously angry sea.

And his prayers were answered.

The winds miraculously shifted from stiff easterlies to a gentle northwest direction. The seas were ironed out and unexpectedly tranquil. His hotel windows that has shook constantly for five days with winds whipping off the Tsugaru Channel was still and framed a welcoming view.

He called Noel Browne, his trainer and fellow training partner, wiping his eyes with disbelief and an unswerving faith in God and simply said, "Let's go." They immediately contacted Captain Mizushima, the top escort pilot in the Tsugaru Channel, who agreed that this was his last and best shot at history.

"It looks good," calmly said Captain Mizushima with a steely resolve of a tuna fisherman whose livelihood is made in the Sea of Japan and Tsugaru Channel. "I want to do this for you."

Captain Mizushima had prepared his boat and set up the swim streamer by 10 am. The crew set off with great haste. Redmond jumped off near the peninsula of Kodomari Benten Cape on the island of Honshu around noon and started sprinting the 30 km to Cape Shirakami on the island of Hokkaido.

Under favorable currents and calm conditions, the formula on his final and fourth attempt of the Tsugaru Channel was spot on. Despite having no linguistic ties or cultural commonalities with his skipper or crew, their bonds were tight. Body language replaced words. Communication with done visually through the eyes and emotionally though their hearts. With the group fully committed to success, the crew melded together...come hell or high water.

Fortunately, neither hell nor high water came. Redmond enjoyed a gentle northwest winds and mild Tsugaru Current throughout the afternoon and evening swim. Swimming straighter than ever thought possible from Honshu to Hokkaido, Redmond followed Captain Mizushima's swim streamer while changing his breathing pattern and picking up his arm stroke pace to swim faster. He swam like a man possessed, carrying the expectations of a nation, feeling the weight of obligations of his local community, and facing self-imposed pressure.

The hours went by in water that was comfortably warm for the man who trains primarily along the cold Irish coastline. 30 minutes swimming followed by a brief feeding stop. "How's my stroke?" he would ask Browne. A nod and an affirmation that things were good, and Redmond was off on another 30-minute burst of inexplicable speed.

30 minutes on. Brief rest. 30 minutes on. Brief rest. Repeated over and over again as the sun went down over Hokkaido. As the darkness of night enveloped Redmond, Browne and Captain Mizushima, their strategy never faltered, their belief in one another never wavered, and their pace never fell in the inky black channel as the lights of Hokkaido seemed within reach.

Far away from home in a land where English is neither spoken nor understood, where the food is from the sea...Stephen Redmond succeeded to become the first person to achieve the Oceans Seven.

The Strait of Gibraltar and the Catalina Channel were a one-shot deal for the famed Irish swimmer, but the Tsugaru defeated him three times. He conquered the notorious North Channel and Fastnet in Ireland, and had to make two attempts at the Molokai Channel in Hawaii and the Cook Strait was terribly difficult, but the Tsugaru has taken four attempts to overcome.

Swimming faster than he ever has before, this crossing took everything he had. "A faster stroke and kick made all the difference. It was a huge gamble. I did not know if I could stick to the pace, but I enjoyed it." His 12 hour 45 minute effort will be the pinnacle of Redmond's remarkable career.

He is a common man with an uncommon vision; an ordinary man doing extraordinary things. A man with dream that was envisioned and ultimately executed.

Stephen Redmond has etched his name in history.

Redmond has completed the following 7 channels of the Oceans Seven:

August 2009: English Channel (England-France) in 20 hours 1 minute
August 2010: North Channel (Scotland-Ireland) in 17 hours 17 minutes
May 2011: Strait of Gibraltar (Spain-Morocco) in 5 hours
October 2011: Catalina Channel (Catalina-California, USA) in 12 hours 39 minutes
February 2012: Cook Strait (North Island-South Island, New Zealand) in 12 hours 30 minutes
February 2012: Molokai Channel (Molokai-Oahu, Hawaii) in 22 hours 29 minutes
July 2012: Tsugaru Channel (Honshu-Hokkaido, Japan) in 12 hours 45 minutes

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association

2 comments:

  1. This is great news. Congratulations Stephen Redmond on your achievement, and also to Steven Munatones for creating this inspiring challenge.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE

The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.

The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.

The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.

Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.

The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."

Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."

The 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Programme

Wednesday, September 17th
Leave Glasgow to commence 2-day tour of Scotland [closest international airport is Glasgow]

Thursday, September 18th
Stay Mainland, North of Scotland

Friday, September 19th
14:00 - Swim Loch Lomond
17:00 - Head to Isle of Bute
19:30 - Scottish Banquet
21:30 - Dinner Dance

Saturday, September 20th
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
12:20 - Lunch and WOWSA Awards
13:40 – Speeches
15:40 - Round Table
19:00 - International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony

Sunday, September 21st
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
14:30 - Swim in St Ninian's Bay on the Isle of Bute

The luminaries of the open water swimming world who will be honored in Scotland will include:

* Sandra Bucha (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Jon Erikson (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Claudio Plit (Argentina), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Judith van Berkel-de Njis (Netherlands), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* David Yudovin (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* George Young (Canada), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Dale Petranech (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Contributor
* Melissa Cunningham (Australia), 2013 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award winner
* Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* James Anderson (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Dr. Jane Katz (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Indonesian Swimming Federation, , International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Organisation
* Elizabeth Fry (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year
* Olga Kozydub (Russia), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
* Bering Strait Swim (international team), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
* International Ice Swimming Association (Ram Barkai, founder, South Africa), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year

For additional articles on the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit:

* Olga Kozydub To Be Honored In Scotland
* Pádraig Mallon To Be Honored In Mount Stuart Castle
* Mount Stuart House, Splendid Setting For Swimming
* Colleen Blair To Kick-off Global Open Water Swimming Conference
* The Man Who Swims Better Than He Walks
* Joining In The Sea Goddess At The Hall Of Fame
* Mercedes Gleitze To Be Honored In Scotland
* The Incredible Career Of Merceded Gleitze
* Jon Erikson To Be Honoured In Florida
* The Incredible Career Of Mercedes Gleitze
* St Ninian's Bay To Host International Swim Conference

Copyright © 2014 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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2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac



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