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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rough Water, Angry Open Water

When the Tsugaru Channel was added to the Oceans Seven, most channel swimmers around the world said, "Where is that? There are tides in the English Channel, jellyfish in the North Channel, huge ocean swells in the Molokai Channel, sharks and cold water in the Cook Strait, night swimming and whales in the Catalina Channel. How tough can the Tsugaru Channel be?"

Good questions all because the photos from the stretch of water between Honshu and Hokkaido can be inscrutable, unpredictable, and misleading.

Last week, Adam Walker became the first British male to complete a crossing of the 19.7 km Tsugaru Channel in Japan with his 15 hour 31 minute traverse.

Walker has completed 5 of the 7 channels of the Oceans Seven: English Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Molokai Channel, Catalina Channel, and he found out first-hand how tough the Tsugaru Channel is.



Mad Adam, as he is alternatively known, was escorted by Captain Mizushima who had to fight adverse currents most of the way. "After 10 hours, he was tired of course, but he kept on fighting with the waves and current. But he was patient and looked strong throughout."

"I must be honest, this swim was the hardest to date. I had to do regular sprints like interval training all the way across when given the signal from the pilot and the waves were relentless. At one stage the ways were so bad I could barely swim and was just ducking under them for an hour and a half. Even at the end when I had a mile to go it pushed me back to 2 miles. Then I had 1 mile to go and it pushed me sideways before finally letting me in. I had two separate occasions when a shark swam underneath me but still have all limbs so all good.

"This tested me to the limit no doubt. The waves were rough all the way through and having to do interval sprints frequently through the swim burnt a lot of energy but it was necessary to beat the current. Even when I could see land, I got hit with waves that through me around like a rag doll. When we were through them and I had a mile to go, I got pushed back another mile. Then I got pushed sideways. I thought the Molokai Channel tested me to the limit, getting stung and pushed along the coast for 6 hours. But this was worse. It took everything I had."

Definitely rough, but most certainly rewarding.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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