Thursday, September 15, 2016

Elizabeth Fry Heads North To Hokkaido

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Elizabeth Fry trailblazed another channel to add another notch in her illustrious International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame career.

Fry, a 57-year-old financial services expert from New York, took off from the eastern peninsula of Honshu, the main island of Japan, and landed in Toi on the southern cape of Hokkaido, the northernmost major island of the Japanese archipelago after a tough 15 hours 48 minutes.

The Tsugaru Channel with only 19.5 km separating Honshu island from Hokkaido is a deceptively difficult strait to cross with its relentless winds, notorious currents and unpredictable eddies. "I was in shock as I had no idea how bad the current was," said Fry.

Her zig-zag crossing took her across the Tsugaru Current. "I am happy I never looked back." Compared to times of her other marathon swims and channel crossings, tackling the Tsugaru was indeed a challenge:

2016: Tsugaru Channel Honshu-to-Hokkaido, 15 hours 48 minutes (19.5 km)
2016: Molokai Channel tandem swim, 17 hours 30 minutes (42 km)
2016: Catalina Channel, 12 hours 37 minutes (32.5 km)
2015: English Channel, 12 hours 15 minutes (32.5 km)
2015: S.C.A.R. Canyon Lake, 7 hours 27 minutes (28.8 km)
2015: S.C.A.R. Saguaro Lake, 7 hours 32 minutes (30.4 km)
2015: S.C.A.R. Apache Lake, 15 hours 47 minutes (54.6 km)
2015: S.C.A.R. Roosevelt Lake, 6 hours 18 minutes (20 km)
2013: Round Jersey: 9 hours 33 minutes (65.9 km)
2011: English Channel two-way, 13 hours 20 minutes (34 km EF) and 11 hours 20 minutes (34 km FE)
2011: In Search of Memphre (Lake Memphremagog), 13 hours 25 minutes (40.2 km)
2011: Ederle Swim two-way, 11 hours 5 minutes (56.3 km)
2009: Manhattan Island clockwise, 11 hours 41 minutes (45.8 km)
2008: English Channel, 12 hours 1 minutes (34 km)
2007: English Channel, 11 hours 11 minutes (34 km)
2005: Catalina Channel, 8 hours 56 minutes (32.5 km)
2003: English Channel, 9 hours 5 minutes (34 km)

Upper photo shows her course from Honshu to Toi, Hokkaido. Lower photo shows Liz Fry with her sister Peggy Gaskill on the escort boat in the Tsugaru Channel.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association

American Swimmer In The Water Seeing Stars

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Japanese fishermen and escort boat crews often fly a flag that says 遠泳中 when a swimmer is swimming alongside their boat.

The three-character word is pronounced "en-ei-chu". The three characters, in order from top to bottom, mean in English "distance" (or long or far), "swimming", and "in the middle" (or ongoing or current). In other words, "a swimmer is in the water (on a long distance swim)".

The flag was most recently flown when American marathon swimmer Liz Fry swam across the Tsugaru Channel between Honshu and Hokkaido on Honshu's eastern peninsula on September 11th in 15 hours 48 minutes.

"I am happy I never looked back. After 9 hours of thumbs up, I was told that I had to swim super hard for the next hour to reach a certain point past the shipping channel otherwise the Japanese Coast Guard would pull me," reported Fry on her Facebook page. "The sun was starting to set with clouds that didn't help. Apparently I made the mark as I was allowed to continue.

I was in shock as I had no idea how bad the current was. I did not expect to swim in the dark here in Japan; however, I left my Catalina supplies with Peggy when I traveled to Seattle after Nora's and my Catalina swim. Luckily, it included beacons and every light stick the San Pedro Marina store had had.

They swapped my dark goggles for polarized grey goggles and the beacon. And off I went. Unfortunately I was swimming against a 1+ mile/hour current at a pace of 2 1/2 miles/hour. My team would say just 2 more miles, several times...until I was done. I returned to the boat, we were all very happy. The boat pilot Ataka-san was very happy. He did an extraordinary job. He told me today that he knew I could make it because he read about my double crossing of the English Channel

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association. He did an extraordinary job. He told me today that he knew I could make it because he read about my double crossing of the English Channel."

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Motoko Honma Solos Across The Tsugaru Channel

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Motoko Honma (本間素子) is a Japanese open water swimmer who has participated in a number of relay channel swims.

She was a member of Team Umiou (海王《うみおう》that completed a 12 hours 45 minute crossing of the 19 km Tsugaru Channel in northern Japan in 2013 together with Tomokazu Sakurai, Nobu Arihirsa, Yuko Isozaki, Shinpei Kamata, and Fujiko Kawasaki.

Then she crossed the 43 km Sado Channel in western Japan on the Ocean Navi relay that took 16 hours 18 minutes to swim across Sado Channel together with Masayuki Moriya, Hidehiko Kato, Kaori Fukusima, Noriko Kawasaki, Ayako Kawasaki, Yoshimitsu Kitazawa, Noriko Kimura, Jun Kuwabara, Kumiko Koizumi, Maki Sakamoto, Akira Shima, Etsuko Shima, Akiko Niide, Isami Mitsuhashi, Kyoko Morikawa, and Eriko Yoshino.

Then in June this year, Honma made her second Sado Channel crossing on a relay. This time, she and Hiroko Kasahara, Noriko Kimura, Kumiko Koizumi, Maki Sakamoto, Daisuke Tanaka, Mayumi Doi, Rei Yamazaki, and Masayuki Moriya completed a crossing in 13 hours 40 minutes.

Finally, she was ready mentally and physically to attempt a solo crossing.

Last month on July 22nd, Honma finally realized her dream and completed a solo wetsuit crossing of the Tsugaru Channel in 13 hours 26 minutes.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Terrific Toshio Tominaga Tackles Tsugaru

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

In his younger days, Toshio Tominaga (富永俊夫 in Japanese) played water polo and swam in school. He was competitive, but then he began his professional career at a Japanese electronics corporation.

As the intervening decades passed, Tominaga stayed in good shape, but he had to dramatically reduce the number of hours that he trained in a pool.

But after retirement at the age of 62, Tominaga took to the oceans surrounding Japan and started to make up for lost time.

For years, he did numerous ocean swims from Okinawa in southern Japan and occasionally traveled overseas to swim in the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey (2009) and the English Channel crossing (2013). But the most difficult ocean swim in Japan, the Tsugaru Channel, was in his sights. He trained and trained and got himself physically and mentally prepared. He studied the logistics and different strategies of crossing the technically difficult channel.

Today in Japan, the 73-year-old retiree finally achieved his dream swim.

"Tominaga-san had marvelous conditions as he started from Gongenzaki Cape on Aomori Prefecture [shown on left] on the main Japanese island of Honshu," explained Steven Munatones. "With Captain Mizushima at the helm, he started much later than other Tsugaru Channel swimmers, entering the water after 7 am."

Then he started to head north towards Hokkaido with a slight bearing just west of his goal. On his main escort boat, Captain Mizushima continued to adjust his course based on the strength of the currents and wind.

On his secondary boat to his left, his 67-year-old wife Yukiko cheered him on.

"Imagine looking at the palm of your hand with your thumb outstretched. The ideal start is at the tip of your thumb and you are heading for the tip of your forefinger," explained Munatones who crossed in both directions in 1990. "Due to the tidal flows caused by the difference in water levels between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean, the Tsugaru Current is swift and always pushes swimmers eastward. Plus, channel swimmers nearly always have to deal with giant swirling eddies that are caused by the topography and shoreline of Hokkaido as they approach their goal."

But Tominaga was lucky.

He was able to swim on nearly a straight shot between his start on Gongenzaki Cape to the town of Fukushima on the southernmost part of Hokkaido, taking only 9 hours 58 minutes to cross.

"His time was the seventh fastest in history. He kept up his stroke and maintained a great pace throughout his crossing. Without a doubt, it was a remarkable swim for anyone, but is especially great to see a swimmer his age take on this challenge. His time reflected his preparations, his navigational strategy, and the generous conditions offered by Mother Nature."

Photos courtesy of Masayuki Moriya of Ocean Navi.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Stephen Junk Crosses The Tsugaru Channel On Second Try

Stephen Junk heading toward the coast of Hokkaido shown below.

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Stephen Junk took a while, but he finally crossed the Tsugaru Channel in northern Japan off his Oceans Seven list.

"Last year, I went to Japan to attempt the Tsugaru Channel swim. But, unfortunately, I got very bad food poisoning from some interesting slug that I ate. This year, I kept away from food that was too adventurous. It played off," he explained.

On August 19th, Junk set out from the Honshu side of Tsugaru at 3:20 am. "At first, the conditions were great. There was a beautiful sunrise under partly cloudy conditions. I progressed quickly to the halfway mark. Then, as swimmers quickly become aware, a strong current came directly at me. Captain Mizushima [the boat pilot shown below] measured it at 4 kilometers per hour that made swimming quite tiresome. The water temperature dropped to 18°C (64°F) at this stage which was quite refreshing in the hard conditions."

After 11 hours 2 minutes of hard swimming without slugs, he climbed onshore on Hokkaido by pulling himself up onto rocky coastline. "I was very glad for that hard swim to be over."

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Honoka Hasegawa Hauls Between Honshu And Hokkaido

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

On August 24th, Honoka Hasegawa (長谷川ほのか) is a 18-year-old Japanese open water swimmer who became the youngest person and fastest woman to cross the Tsugaru Channel between Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan in 8 hours 31 minutes. She began her crossing at 3:39 am in 23°C relatively calm waters.

For video footage of Hasegawa's swim, visit here.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Friday, August 12, 2016

Abhejali Bernardova Swims Her 4th Oceans Seven Channel

Courtesy of Vasanti Niemz, Tsugaru Channel, Japan.

Endurance athlete Abhejali Bernardova of the Czech Republic was as fortunate as Polish endurance athlete Boguslaw Stanislaw Ogrodnik was unfortunate.

The two athletes were waiting on the shores of Tappi Misaki in northern Japan for their windows to cross the Tsugaru Channel.

While Ogrodnik's chances were blown out due to the strong wind conditions caused by a typhoon, Bernardova took advantage of the calm after the storm.

"She finished perfectly at the foot of the lighthouse; only 3 swimmers or so have done that before," reported Vasanti Niemz. "Her 11 hour 7 minute swim was done in warm calm water (23°C). Captain Mizushima said it was the calmest day he has seen this year.

There were no tricky currents at the end, and it was a perfect route. There were tiny waves and almost no wind.

The team and the swimmer were very happy of course. It was a first of our Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team

Bernardova is the first Czech swimmer to complete a crossing of the Tsugaru Channel. She left the shores of Honshu at 3:31 am, a short time before sunrise.

Her escort team that oversaw her fourth Oceans Seven channel included Uddyogini Hall from Australia, escort pilot Captain Mizushima from Tappi Misaki, observer Mika Tokairin from Tokyo, sister Jana Bernadova from London, and sister`s fiancé Tiago, and Harashita of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team Japan.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

2017 Tsugaru Channel Season Slots

Courtesy of Yusuke Shimasaki of H.I.S. Co., Ltd., Japan.

Yusuke Shimasaki of H.I.S. Co., Ltd. announced the last available slots for the 2017 Tsugaru Channel season, both for relays and solo channel swimmers.

"H.I.S. Co., Ltd. is a leading Japanese travel agency that supports foreign athletes wishing to cross the Tsugaru Channel. We coordinate the travel, ground transportation, accommodations and escort boat pilots while working closely with Ocean Navi and the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association," explains Shimasaki. "The remaining available windows for the 2017 season are as follows:"

* 25-26 July 2017
* 27-28 July 2017
* 7-8 August 2017
* 9-10 August 2017
* 14-15 August 2017
* 29-30 August 2017
* 31 August - 1 September 2017
* 4-5 September 2017
* 6-7 September 2017
* 13-14 September 2017
* 20-21 September 2017

For more information and application documents in English about crossing the Tsugaru Channel, contact Shimasaki at

For detailed information about the Tsugaru Channel, visit Openwaterpedia and the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association.

Adam Walker swimming across the Tsugaru Channel.

Stephen Redmond swimming across the Tsugaru Channel.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Antonio Argüelles On Enjoying The Open Ocean

Courtesy of Antonio Argüelles, an Honour Swimmer inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 2015.

In September 2009 I completed the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming in one season and, with that, became the first person in the world to have achieved the Triple Crown twice. In November of that same year I was honored in Mexico with the National Sports Award.

I was missing only one formal recognition: to enter the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF).

Steven Munatones and Nora Toledano first made the case for my selection in April 2010, but it had no effect on the members of the selection committee. The same thing happened in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

In 2014 I decided to train to run the Chicago Marathon. If I could cover the distance in less than 6 minutes per kilometer, I would announce my intention to swim the Seven Seas. I hoped that with this achievement, I would make it into the Hall of Fame.

I ran Chicago in October and made an agreement with Nora that we would start training in November. The first weeks were full of pain. I had been away from the pool for almost six years and the lack of practice showed in my swims both in the ocean and in Las Estacas. I remember my first training of the season in Las Estacas: I had to use fins and paddles to survive.

After crossing the English Channel in 2009 I took a year of sabbatical, with only one hour of exercise six days a week. The result was that I gained weight, suffered insomnia and generally did not feel good.

In 2011 I started training to climb Mount Everest, but the the project didn’t come together. On the journey I broke my femur: a 25-centimeter stress fracture. Regaining mobility with my leg was complicated, and to start running again even more so. I finally managed to find my balance, and in 2013 I ran the New York Marathon, and the following year, the Chicago Marathon again.

Those were years of constant injuries. While it distracted me to train or go train in Ocotal or Muñeco with Professor Kepka, I couldn’t find a rhythm that made me feel good. Returning to the pool, going to Las Estacas or swimming in The Cove gradually got me back into a routine that I liked. Every day I got up at 4:30 a.m. thinking of making a sea crossing again.

I was in Puebla on December 8th last year when I heard that the list of new members of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame had been published in the Daily News of Open Water Swimming — and that I was one of them. At first I did not believe it. I thought it was a joke. I waited for Steven Munatones, the site’s editor to confirm the honor before going public with my family and friends.

I never imagined that something I had always wanted was to cause me great distress few months later.

On July 2nd I crossed the Strait of Gibraltar. After two hours of swimming, after a horrible swallow of seawater, I began to doubt the whole enterprise. Was I really going to be able to make the crossings I had ahead me? I had known the Strait of Gibraltar was an easy swim of not more than five hours, yet from very early point I was suffering.

On my return to Mexico, I had several sessions with my mental coach, Jaime Delgado, and found the explanation for the Strait of Gibraltar incident. Among other things, having entered the Hall of Fame had taken away the motivation I needed to achieve the four swims yet to come. It was a critical moment that made me think a lot about the why of my swims.

I understand very well my reasons for wanting to cross the English Channel for the first time, and to and complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming in one year. However, that motivation was no longer there — especially now that I had entered the Hall of Fame.

I went in circles around the issue for several weeks. Concentrating on my training helped me deal with it. My workload dropped considerably after I left my position as Secretary of Education in the State of Puebla, so I decided to train very hard over the last two months. I put in two strength sessions a week with Oscar Perez at Sport City, swam eight hours at The Cove and went to Las Estacas every weekend I was in Mexico.

Apart from crisis of confidence, I really hurt my lower back, neck and shoulder in the Strait of Gibraltar. The purpose of strength training was to strengthen those parts of my body. The first session lasted 30 minutes and left me just about dead. There was exercise with a medicine ball that particularly worked me over. With each session I was improving, though. Eventually I built up to 90 minutes and was able to work with the ball without a problem.

Physically I was ready; now I had to see if I had done the same with my mind.

We got to Japan and, as a team, we decided that we would integrate the life and rhythm of the place. All reports I had read indicated that one of the challenges of attempting Tsugaru Channel was being away from Western civilization. Our first dinner — and especially the first breakfast — confirmed what we already knew: fish, soup and rice three times a day.

Another way we experienced “turning Japanese” was at bedtime. When we were asked if we preferred a bed or mat in our rooms, I chose the tatami — I love it. I persuaded Pablo to do the same. I really began to feel as if I belonged there.

The first sign that my mind was on the right path came in my first meditation session. I was able to focus quickly and do what I wanted with my shoulder. The method was working. Then came my first encounter with the water — the strategy worked well there, too. The same thing happened during the seven days that followed.

Tuesday the 15th I got up 10 minutes before my alarm rang. I’d had six hours of deep sleep — my best so far — and, best of all, without the anxiety that normally accompanies nights before my competition.

We went down to the lobby at 2:30 a.m. There were hoping to find our observer with whom we would go to the pier. After 15 minutes, he had not appeared. Finally, he arrived in his car at 2:50 wanting to know what happened happened. There had been confusion about the meeting point. At another point in my life I would had been furious about the mistake, especially because I had asked him where we should be and he specifically told me in the lobby. As it happened — to my surprise — the incident did not make any particular impact on me; I was really making progress.

The boat trip to the starting point took one hour. On previous crossing attempts I had applied lotion and Vaseline on my neck and armpits but still felt chilled, especially in my feet. But before I entered the water Nora told me, "You will feel warm.”

After the observer tells me I have to swim to shore and touch one of the two rocks he’s shining his flashlight on, I stand on the right side of the boat and drop into the sea. The water is at 21°C — almost 70ºF — but it feels like 26ºC and my body relaxes.

I touch the rock and, at 4:30 a.m., I start my crossing.

The first hour is very slow; my watch says I’ve gone 2.5 km. At this rate I will not meet the time limit established by the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association. But it doesn’t worry me. I concentrate on my rhythm and let myself go. I think about how lucky I am: at 56 years old I am in the middle of the ocean, doing what I love and enjoying it. The feeling is enhanced by the strip of cloth that runs under me, parallel to the boat, guiding me like a lane line in the pool.

I do not know whether on purpose or by coincidence, but I'm challenging the sheet to races. Every time I start to catch up with the ship, Captain Mizushima pushes the throttle. That makes my rhythm change and I start swimming faster, chasing after the white line beneath me.

For previous discussions with the captain, the observer and the two swimmers who preceded me, I knew the swim would be divided into swimming in 3 sections. The first is at 8 kilometers, the second at 27 and final stretch at 32. The level of difficulty will change at each stage.

Little by little, it begins to dawn. The change is slow, but then, suddenly, I have the sun in my eyes. My feedings start as soon as I begin the swim, and thereafter I will take a few seconds every 30 minutes to eat a packet of Accel Gel and take between 350 and 400 milliliters of water. At 2 hours 30 minutes, during my fifth feeding, I ask my team to pass me my dark goggles. The sun has risen, and from certain angles it prevents me from seeing the boat.

I'm concentrating on my breathing and rhythm, watching the sheet as well as my surroundings to see if there’s any marine life. The first encounters are with sea snakes — fortunately far away from me — then jellyfish and later an occasional fish, but nothing spectacular.

I swim the first 8 km in 2 hours 45 minutes, 5 minutes over the time I had set to make my goal. It doesn’t really register that I've finished the first block — I’m too busy crunching numbers. My time is between 16:00 and 18:30 per km — a 17:45 seconds average.

While it’s not valid to compare swimming speed in rivers, lakes or seas with your speed in the pool, it does gives me a useful idea of the pace I’ve reached, and helps me gauge my state of fatigue and pain.

In my mind I always carry important references for swimming. The first is to reaching the 6-hour mark. After passing that point, the hours become shorter. On the Tsugaru Channel crossing this happens around kilometer 19.

The second checkpoint is at 8 hours of swimming, the duration of my longer training sessions. I'll have to check several things at that time. First, my left shoulder. Since April, I’ve had an injury there that did not allow me to swim fast in the pool and has caused me pain every day. I know I'm probably doing something wrong in my motion, but I'm not clear what it is. In June, we had a video session but failed to locate the error in my mechanics. It hurts now, but not so much need to worry.

The second status I need to check is my fatigue level. I wonder if I can take five or six hours, for I’m bearing on 27 km and, for all practical purposes, I’ve finished the second of the three sections of the swim. Captain Mizushima’s statistics tell us that the third leg takes 3 to 4 hours. I inflate those numbers based on what little I can see from the water — it’s clear I'm still far from shore.

The third most important point to assess is, how is my mind working? How am I feeling? Am I relaxed? Angry? Bored? To my surprise, I find I’m actually very relaxed, happy to be in the water, not having any dialogue with the boat and, most important, holding a clear strategy of how to complete the swim.

For the time and distance I’ve reached so far, it is clear that I going to swim more than the 32 km I had been told. It’s not clear how much longer at this point, but I estimate that about 4 hours are realistic. In addition, the difficulties I've faced so far are minor, and have nothing in common with my worst days in the water. I have a benchmark with which I can compare my efforts; I am reassured to know that I have the reserve to withstand any stand pain and frustration.

This is when I leave off crossing Tsugaru. I imagine that I'm in a long workout and that my objective is to swim 45 km - the distance of the Molokai Channel. I ask Nora to give me my splits every kilometer so that I know my speed, because for the last 7 km I’ve been swimming 15 minutes per km. When I change my speed, I will know I am entering the most difficult stage of the crossing.

Three hours pass in which I’m swimming fast, but not going anywhere. The currents of the Sea of Japan are pulling me into the Pacific Ocean; I’m literally traveling parallel to the shore. At 40 km,, they tell me that soon the currents will shift and then we will try to approach the coast.

In the following two kilometers, I go from swimming 15 minutes per kilometer to 28 minutes per kilometer. Rohans More had told me to prepare myself for a tough final stretch, but I did not imagine that the change of pace would be so abrupt.

My arms get tired and I generally feel like I'm losing power. I'm tempted to ask for a Accel Gel in the between my regular supplies, but I decide against it. I access my innermost strength and imagine injecting reserves of it into my arms. The strategy works almost instantly and I progress very rapidly over the next two kilometers. The coast is near. Just give me a point of reference; in that moment, I’ll know it's only a matter of time. Now I'm just crossing my own room — the sea.

I arrive on shore. I can hardly stand up, not only because I have just spent 12 hours 38 minutes in a horizontal position, but because the beach is studded with shells and stones. Finally I succeed, and salute the ship with four fingers raised.

The easy part is over.

On returning to the boat I feel a great peace. There has been more than 12 hours of communion with the sea. During my swim I managed finally stop worrying about what’s motivating me to reach my goal. I’ve solved my problem of the Hall of Fame.

I swim because I like it.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Friday, September 18, 2015

Crossing The Tsugaru Channel With Antonio Argüelles

Courtesy of Masayuki Moriya, Ocean Navi who filmed Antonio Argüelles' 12 hour 38 minutes crossing of the Tsugaru Channel in northern Japan between Honshu and Hokkaido.

Copyright © 2015 by Masayuki Moriya of Ocean Navi

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Rohans More Completes Another Oceans Seven Crossing

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Rohans More of India has steadily climbed the Oceans Seven rankings. With his 10 hour 37 minute crossing of the Tsugaru Channel in Japan this week, he is now #8 on the list.

Like most other Tsugaru Channel swimmers, More started out just at sunrise in fairly calm waters. Then, as the sun rose and crossed the sky, the winds meet the Tsugaru Current and start to create havoc for the swimmers. But More hung tough, swam calmly despite the turbulence and finished strongly with this small support team led by Captain Mizushima.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Antonio Argüelles Misses The Cape, But Reaches Hokkaido

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

While Cap Gris Nez looms large in the channel swimming community, very few people know about its Pacific Ocean comparable, Shirakami Misaki in northern Japan's Tsugaru Channel.

Cape Shirakami (or 白神岬 in Japanese) juts out from the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido just like Cap Gris Nez is an elusive point where channel swimmers aim. Sometimes, swimmers hit it just right and are able to land on this small point like Stephen Redmond, but others just miss it all together like Antonio Argüelles yesterday.

When Cap Gris Nez or Shirakami Misaki are missed, then things start to get dicey in the channels. Time passes by as the ability for the swimmers to reach land becomes increasingly more difficult. Tides shift and eddies loom large around Shirakami Misaki. The movement of water occasionally force swimmers in a westwardly direction after pushing them eastwardly - and never towards land. They can swim in circles, helpless to make any significant forward progress. The swirling of currents is undeniably frustrating from a mental perspective and excruciatingly difficult at the physical level.

But Argüelles, who has twice before accomplished the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, knew what he was facing. He hunkered down and kicked into his endurance gear, augmented by the steely patience of a veteran channel swimmer.

"I had a wonderful time swimming the Tsugaru Channel. I faced a bit of everything, from waves to a complicated landing," he explained from northern Japan after his 12 hour 38 minute crossing. "As I get older, I appreciate tremendously the opportunities I have to do a challenging swim. I will not get younger, but I sure feel great.

This is a swim not only for swimmers wanting to complete the Oceans Seven, but it is also a good exercise to face the Channel."

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Antonio Argüelles To Tackle Tsugaru

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

After twice completing the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming during his career, Antonio Argüelles is setting off on his second Oceans Seven channel tomorrow.

Argüelles crossed the Strait of Gibraltar with Nora Toledano and Mariel Hawley Dávila earlier this summer, and now he is standing on the shore of Honshu getting ready to swim across the Tsugaru Channel.

He will also attempt crossings of the Molokai Channel and the North Channel in 2016 with the goal to culminate the Oceans Seven (Siete Mares) with a crossing of the Cook Strait in 2017.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Monday, September 7, 2015

Daniel Curtis Completes A Tsugaru Channel Crossing

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Daniel Curtis started off his tour of Japan in the Namihaya Dome in Osaka. 13 days later he headed northwards to Aomori Prefecture to begin his brief but important acclimatization to the waters of the Tsugaru Channel.

Today, he completed this third Oceans Seven channel with a successful crossing of the Tsugaru Channel in 13 hours 39 minutes.

His coaches and crew Valerio Valli and Diarmuid Herlihy reported, "Daniel started very early on Honshu at 4:32 am with Captain Mizushima at the helm and arrived on Hokkaido at 6:11 pm. It was a sunny day, but very windy and choppy."

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Guy Does Moar Than Enough Across The Tsugaru Channel

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

With his tough crossing of the 19.5 km Tsugaru Channel, Guy Moar of Australia joined some of the top swimmers in the world* who have completed the most Oceans Seven channels.

His Tsugaru Channel crossing from Honshu to Hokkaido in northern Japan took him 11 hours 32 minutes of constant effort.

"Guy was escorted by Captain Mizushima," explains Masayuki Moriya of Ocean Navi and the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association. "The straight-line distance across the channel is less than 20 km, but swimmers have an option to take the more risky, technically difficult straight-line tangent or a more curvaceous, conservative route where the swimmers attempt to slingshot their way across the channel riding along the Tsugaru Current."

"The Kodomari Route was pioneered by David Yudovin in 1990 where he started at Kodomari fishing port on Aomori Prefecture," said Steven Munatones who crossed in 1990. "It is a longer course, but more conservative without the speed demands of the Tappi Misaki course which is a straight shot across the shortest points from Honshu to Hokkaido.

Moar took the more conservative Kodomari Route where he faced eddies and some strong lateral currents caused by the Tsugaru Current, but Captain Mizushima always kept Moar pointed towards Hokkaido's Shirakami Misaki. As Moar was constantly pushed away from his goal, the conditions calmed towards the end as he approached Hokkaido.

Not since 2012 has the Tsugaru Channel been host to so many experienced ocean swimming veterans. In 2012, Darren Miller (USA), Stephen Redmond (Ireland), Michelle Macy (USA), Forrest Nelson (USA), Craig Lenning (USA), Pat Gallant-Charette (USA) and Anna-Carin Nordin (Sweden) all successfully crossed from Honshu to Hokkaido.

Eventually, 11 hours 32 minutes after his start, Moar reached land on the northernmost island of Japan.

But like many experienced channel swimmers, he learned that the relatively short distance of the Tsugaru Channel is a challenge at least comparable to other channels. More's 11:32 Tsugaru crossing took him longer than his 11:03 crossing of the 21-mile English Channel, his 7:09 crossing of the 19.7 km Rottnest Channel, his 11:04 crossing of the 21.6-mile Loch Lomond, and his 11:10 crossing of the 21-mile North Channel.

* Moar joins the following luminaries in the open water swimming world who have successfully completed at least 4 of the 7 Oceans Seven channels: Stephen Redmond (7), Anna-Carin Nordin (7), Michelle Macy (7), Darren Miller (7), Adam Walker (7), Kimberly Chambers (7), Penny Palfrey (6), Forrest Nelson (5), Craig Lenning (5), David Yudovin (5), James Pittar (4), Kevin Murphy (4), Bula Chowdhury Chakraborty (4), Tom Hecker (4), Pieter Christian Jongeneel Anderica (4), T. Scott Coleman (4), Kathleen Wilson (4), Pat Gallant-Charette (4), Lynne Cox (4), Aditya Santosh Raut (4), Yesenia Cabrera Fuegos (4), Taranath Narayan Shenoy (4), Stephen Junk (4), Adrian Sarchet (4), Rohans More (4), and Guy Moar (4).

For more information on the Tsugaru Channel, visit Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association and Openwaterpedia.

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