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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Swimming Strait - Tackling The Tsugaru

The Tsugaru Channel is the least known of the 7 channels that make up the Oceans Seven.

The channel is in a far-away land where Japanese is the only local language spoken - presenting additional challenges for non-Japanese marathon swimmers.

The Japanese escort boat pilots are experienced fishermen in the area, many of whom have spent their entire lives fishing among the well-stocked area of myriad marine life.

Additionally, the channel presents many of the same challenges as the other more well-known waterways of the Oceans Seven: strong currents, tidal flows, unpredictable eddies, unswimmable waters when the winds come up, jellyfish, squid, large ocean swells, and large oil tankers and cargo ships running the channel.

The recommended time to attempt crossings is July and August, although some have attempted in May and June when the water is still closer to 10°C (50°F) than 15°C (59°F), but in July and August, the water temperature increases well above 16°C (61°F).

The distance between the two closest points is Tappi Misaki (竜飛崎) on the Honshu (south) side of the channel and Shirakami Misaki (白神岬) on the Hokkaido (north) side in 19.5 km (12 miles).

Note: "misaki" means "cape" in English. However, many of the successful solo and relay crossings follow the course pioneered by David Yudovin in 1990.

Yudovin started on the far western side of the channel on a small cape called Kodomari Benten Cape (小泊権現崎) on Honshu and allowed the west-to-east running Tsugaru Current to push him towards Shirakami Misaki on the Hokkaido. His pioneering swim took him 13 hours 10 minutes in July 1990.

An alternative course is to swim directly between Tappi Misaki on Honshu to Shirakami Misaki along the Shirakami Peninsula on Hokkaido. This course is a bit more high-risk in that the currents around Tappi Misaki run fast, but if the swimmer is fast enough, the distance is shorter. This course was taken by Steven Munatones a few weeks after Yudovin's swim in 6 hours 11 minutes in July 1990.

The shortest course in the reverse direction (north-to-south) is from Shirakami Misaki to Tappi Misaki that was pioneered by Munatones in 1990 in 6 hours 39 minutes.

Another course is between Shirakami Misaki on Hokkaido and Shimokita Peninsula (下北半島) on the eastern side of Honshu. This course was pioneered by Miyuki Fujita in 2006 and swum by Penny Palfrey in 14 hours 26 minutes in 2011.

The currents flow quickly from west to east as the water flows from the Sea of Japan to the Pacific Ocean.

Large swells, extremely turbulent water surface conditions, unpredictable eddies and abundant marine life from sharks to sea snakes exist, although jellyfish and squid are usually what swimmers see and encounter.

The challenges include issues both on land for planning and logistics purposes and in the water. The fact that English and languages other than Japanese are not spoken in area is an obstacle not a problem in the Cook Strait, Strait of Gibraltar, North Channel, Molokai Channel, English Channel or Catalina Channel. In the water, swimmers are often swept long distances due to the extraordinarily strong currents flowing from the Sea of Japan to the Pacific Ocean and can face large blooms of squid during the night. Swimmers are challenged by occasional patches of cold water that flow up from the depths that have even chilled such marathon swimming stalwarts as Stephen Redmond.

American Darren Miller shows his environment as he prepares for his Tsugaru Channel attempt this week. Miyuki Fujita, the most prolific Japanese channel swimmer, shows the usual conditions in the Tsugaru Channel below.





Besides Miller, Ireland's Stephen Redmond, Sweden's Anna-Carin Nordin and Americans Pat Gallant-Charete, Forrest Nelson and Michelle Macy will make attempts across the only Oceans Seven challenge in the Far East as well as relays from Japan and elsewhere.

Open Water Source will be following Miller and Redmond are their swims across the Tsugaru Channel this week.

Online information on the channel include: Openwaterpedia, Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association, Tsugaru Channel Swimming blog and Ocean-Navi.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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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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