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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Open Water Swimming Preparations For Tsugaru Channel






















Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Stephen Redmond made the Tsugaru Channel famous with his indomitable channel attempts in 2012, but one of the shortest Oceans Seven channels is also one of the toughest.

Its difficulty is largely due to its position between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean.

The channel functions like a water tunnel whipped up by winds and shrouded in fog that causes all kinds of problems for swimmers when they attempt to cross the Tsugaru Current. Eddies that relentlessly swirl due to the jigsaw pattern of the coastlines of Honshu (in the south) and Hokkaido (in the north) add to the challenge.

When asked how best to train for these conditions and 19.5 km distance, Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association founder Steven Munatones recommends standard pool training familiar to open water swimmers plus a few extra open water preparations:

Turbulence Training

The Tsugaru Channel is usually extremely choppy due to strong winds from Hokkaido that often run into an oncoming Tsugaru Current that flows from west to east. As the swim date approaches, it is best to increase the amount of time that you train in turbulent conditions. This generally means that a swimmer train in their nearby ocean, sea or lake during the late afternoon, spending as much time as possible getting battered by the whitecaps. The more than a swimmer can get acclimated to swimming in extreme turbulence at home, the better off they will be prepared for the Tsugaru Channel in Japan. If possible, they can augment turbulence training with core work, trying to increase their abdominal strength. If the swimmer has limited time for dry land training, it is recommended to spend as much time improving their core strength over other muscle groups because maintaining balance and trying to keep a straight hand path in the water while being tossed about in the turbulence requires a strong core.

Low-light Training

Other than very fast swimmers who wish to start from the more turbulent Tappi Misaki Cape, most swimmers start at Benten Cape off the small village of Kodomari on the far western side of Aomori Prefecture [shown above]. Swimmers generally leave their hotel and meet their escort pilots like Captain Mizushima at the docks between 2-3 am. Then they will boat out to the start that will take another 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the conditions. The sun will just come over the horizon when they jump from the boat, but the water will still be an inky black. Of course, if there is a full moon, then the water will have that magical evening glow to it. Depending on how their swim goes, they may also finish after sunset. Therefore, part of the preparations for the Tsugaru Channel should be done in low-light conditions (pre-dawn or post-dusk) so the swimmer is comfortable swimming at night. Swimmers should also know where and how to place glow sticks or some kind of illumination of their swim cap or goggles.

Eddy Training

In the pool, while swimmers do their long training sets, they should occasionally throw in sets where they must significantly pick up their speed. Swimmers will most likely hit eddies as you approach Shirakami Cape on the Hokkaido coast of the Tsugaru Channel. These eddies can literally push swimmers east or west or south despite their target of a direct north. They have a choice to either continue swimming at their same pace while being completely pushed off course, or they can attempt to significantly pick up their speed in an attempt to overcome the push of the eddies. Swimmers must train themselves to do this. It is not easy. So, if they do a set of 8 x 1000 or 6 x 1500 in a pool on a certain interval, try to do a fast-paced 500 between the third, fifth and last swim on a much faster interval. For example, if they swim 8 x 1000 at a 12:00 interval (1:30 pace per 100m), swimmers can try to add in 3 extra 500s between the 3rd and 4th 1000, between the 6th and 7th 1000, and after the 8th 1000 where they try to maintain a 1:20 pace per 100m for those 500s.

Hydration and Fueling Training

Swimmers know to get accustomed to their favorite drinks and foods during their pool and ocean training. They learn what works best for themselves. Practice hydrating and fueling quickly. Because the speed of the currents and eddies can be fast, every minutes spent treading vertically in the water can result in much more time in the water.

Marine Life Expectations

There is no industry other than fishing in the Tsugaru Channel area. So the water is remarkably clean…and filled with marine life. Expect to run into jellyfish, squid, sharks, and perhaps a few dolphins. The jellyfish stings will not be debilitating, but irritating to say the least. The squid may be nowhere to be seen during the day or may be everywhere at night. The sharks which feed on the schools of tuna are not interested in a slow-moving human swimming next to a diesel-spewing escort boat going in an out of gear, but they may be curious. Because the water clarity enable swimmers to see quite deeply in the royal blue water, the swimmer may see things swimming deep below that the escort crew and pilot may not see.

Frequent conditions in the Tsugaru Channel, called the English Channel of the Far East:





Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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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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2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac



An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

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