Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Doctor Is In The House

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

A day after the latest Japanese relay team crossed the Tsugaru Channel, Dr. Steven Minaglia from Honolulu, Hawaii is getting ready for his own solo Tsugaru Channel attempt.

From his hotel room on Tappi Misaki, he has been watching the whitewater and wind chop typically blow across the Tsugaru Current. Eddies, chop and marine life await the specialist in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Hawaii who has crossed several channels in Hawaii and the Strait of Gibraltar.

Photo by Dr. Minaglia shows Honshu (Tappi Misaki*) in the foreground and Hokkaido (Shirakami Misaki*) in the background where the current typically flows quickly from west to east (left to right in the photo) unless it is punctuated with swirling eddies.

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

Note: The Seikan Tunnel (青函トンネル) runs underneath the channel with a 23.3 km (14.5 mile) portion under the seabed very close to the optimal swimmer's course. The rail track is about 100 meters below the seabed and 240 meters below sea level.

* Misaki means point or cape in English.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Now Swimming, Then Success After 9 Hours 51 Minutes

Photos and report courtesy of Ocean Navi.

Aya Iwata, Yukichi Usui, Ikuko Ono, Yasuo Naito, Hiroko Hachinoe and Peter Turberfield completed a 6-person Tsugaru Channel crossing from Honshu to Hokkaido in 9 hours 51 minutes this week in Japan.















The team traveled south to north, swimming from Honshu, the main island of Japan, across the Tsugaru Channel, to the northernmost island of Hokkaido. Their course was relatively straight, comparatively rare among Tsugaru Channel crossings, although they hit a challenging eddy towards the end.

Photo above was taken onboard Captain Mizushima's escort boat after landing in Hokkaido's Shirakami Misaki.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

津軽海峡初泳!女性だけのチームで挑戦し成功した



"A First For The Tsugaru Channel. All-female Team Is A Success" video courtesy of Masayuki Moriya of Ocean Navi on the Tsugaru Channel in Japan.

The relay including Asano-san, Abe-san, Inoue-san, Kataoka-san, and Takahashi-san became the first all-female team to finish the Honshu-to-Hokkaido crossing. On August 21st, they crossed in 13 hours 44 minutes. The infamous Tsugaru Channel eddies off the Hokkaido shore can be seen at the 2:56 mark in the video.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Go West To Swim North To Hokkaido

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

We never understand why swimmers who attempt the Tsugaru Channel in Japan start from the eastern peninsula on Honshu. The currents, tides and eddies have proven time and time again to prevent swimmers from successfully crossing the Tsugaru Channel.

History has proven that the chances of success starting from the east in order to reach the northern island of Hokkaido are extraordinarily low.

In contrast, swimmers since David Yudovin and Steven Munatones in 1990 to the recent successes of Kimberley Chambers and Attila Mányoki have started on the western peninsula of Honshu.

With his 7 hour 29 minute crossing of the Tsugaru Channel last week, Mányoki continues to be a topic in the television news in his native Hungary. "Every day there was news about my days in Japan. On Saturday evening during the main news time, my swim across the Tsugaru Channel was reported and broadcast. It was also shown during the Sunday morning news shows too. And the TV stations are waiting for me [to return]."

The image above shows the typical course of swimmers who start from the eastern peninsula...before being pulled out.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Attila Mányoki Across The Tsugaru Channel



Video courtesy of Ocean Navi, showing Attila Mányoki's fast 7 hour 29 minute crossing of the Tsugaru Channel between Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan.

Mányoki took a chance and departed Honshu from Tappi Misaki, something very few athletes attempt.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Cápákkal úszott Mányoki Attila



Interview of Hungarian Mányoki Attila courtesy of tv2.hu about his swim across the Tsugaru Channel.

Mányoki Attila bravúros teljesítményt vitt véghez, ugyanis telesítette az Ocean’s Seven japán állomását, átúszta a veszélyes Cugaru-szorost. Magyarként először, de a világon is mindössze a tizenharmadik úszó, aki sikerrel teljesítette ezt a szakaszt. A zalaegerszegi sportoló a Mokkában elmondta, hogy sok veszéllyel járt a kísérlet. Két hajó is kísérte, így próbálták ugyanis távol tartani a cápákat az úszóktól. Attila elmondta, hogy egyszer még le is kellett állnia, ugyanis a parttól 4-5 kilométerre kettő, egyenként négy méteres cápa közelítette meg őket. A 37,1 kilométeres távot végül 7 óra 29 perc alatt teljesítette.

Attila Mányoki completed the Japanese leg of the Oceans Seven, a risky swim across the Tsugaru Channel. He was the first Hungarian to complete the swim and only the thirteenth swimmer to successfully cross this channel. The athlete from Zalaegerszeg Mokkában [in western Hungary] said there was a lot of risk in the attempt. He was accompanied by two escort boats in an attempt to keep sharks away. Attila said that the crossing was longer than anticipated by 4-5 kilometers while four-meter shark approached him. The 37.1 km swim was ultimately completed in 7 hours 29 minutes.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Attila Mányoki Flies Across The Tsugaru Channel

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Attila Mányoki was accompanied by a crew from the largest Hungarian broadcasting company and did his country proud with a very fast 7 hour 29 minute crossing of the Tsugaru Channel in Japan.

The professional marathon swimmer had to wait a few days for a typhoon to pass so both he and the television crew were nervous that his window would pass. But when the typhoon turned away from Honshu, the post-storm calm was inviting. Mányoki took off fast from the shores of Honshu and never let down until he reached Hokkaido.

His time across the Tsugaru Channel was the third fastest of all time and the fastest since 1990.

The list of Tsugaru Channel swimmers is below:

* David Yudovin (USA) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 11:56 (1990)
* Steven Munatones (USA) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 6:11 (1990)
* Steven Munatones (USA) solo single crossing (Hokkaido-to-Honshu) in 6:39 (1990)
* Steven Munatones (USA) solo double crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido-to-Honshu) in 12:50 (1990)
* Miyuki Fujita (Japan) - solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 11:36 (2005)
* Miyuki Fujita (Japan) - solo triple crossing in 37:24 (2006)
* Masayuki Moriya (Japan) - solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 11:55 (2011 with wetsuit)
* Penny Palfrey (Australia) - solo single crossing (Hokkaido-to-Honshu) in 14:26 (2011)
* Darren Miller (USA) - solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 15:55 (2012)
* Stephen Redmond (Ireland) - solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 12:45 (2012)
* Michelle Macy (USA) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 8:55 (2012)
* Forrest Nelson (USA) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 9:26 (2012)
* Craig Lenning (USA) solo single crossing (Hokkaido-to-Honshu) in 10:44 (2012)
* Pat Gallant-Charette (USA) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 19:36 (2012)
* Anna-Carin Nordin (Sweden) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 19:11 (2012)
* Adam Walker (Great Britain) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 15:31 (2013)
* Kimberley Chambers (New Zealand) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 9:38 (2014)
* Attila Mányoki (Hungary) solo single crossing (Honshu-to-Hokkaido) in 7:29 (2014)

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Friday, July 4, 2014

Kimberley Chambers Loving Her Journey In Tsugaru

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Kimberley Chambers of New Zealand completed her sixth Oceans Seven channel this week in a quick 9 hours 38 minutes.

As she was closing in on Hokkaido, the currents and eddies pushed her far east for the last two hours. "I was expecting this, but man, those currents were strong. The swim streamer was at a right angle to the boat [then]."

But her strategy was spot on. "My shoulders are oddly sore, but I am sure that is because i started out of the gate as fast as I could because I was worried about the [Tsugaru] current. [In contrast] I spent the first 3 hours slow and steady in the English Channel and Catalina. But overall, I am in much better shape than [after completing] the Molokai Channel [in 19 hours 27 minutes]."

One thing that we have observed is that Chambers is getting stronger and faster as she climbs up the Oceans Seven chart. "I am trying my best. And simply loving the personal journey and seeing how far I can push my mind and my body. I have many more swims to do."

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Kim Chambers Completes #6 To Climb To #5



































Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

It is natural and expected for world-class swimmers like Lynne Cox and Penny Palfrey to be on the highest echelon of the Oceans Seven list.

But it is equally unlikely and unexpected for rugby players like Stephen Redmond and ballerinas like Kim Chambers to be at this same level.

Chambers has steadily climbed the Oceans Seven rankings and is within a swim of becoming the fifth person to complete it.

Yesterday, the former ballerina from New Zealand comparatively easily knocked off the Tsugaru Channel in Japan with a relatively uneventful crossing of 9 hours 38 minutes under unexpectedly mellow conditions, swimming steadily from Honshu to Hokkaido northern Japan under the watchful eye of Captain Mizushima.

The current top 10 individuals of the Oceans Seven:

1. Stephen Redmond (Ireland): COMPLETED English Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Catalina Channel, Cook Strait, Molokai Channel, Tsugaru Channel, North Channel.
1. Anna-Carin Nordin (Sweden): COMPLETED Molokai Channel, English Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Catalina Channel, Tsugaru Channel, Cook Strait, North Channel.
1. Michelle Macy (USA): COMPLETED English Channel (3 times), Catalina Channel, Molokai Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Cook Strait, Tsugaru Channel, North Channel.
1. Darren Miller (USA): COMPLETED English Channel, Catalina Channel, Molokai Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Tsugaru Channel, Cook Strait, North Channel.
5. Penny Palfrey (Australia): English Channel (2 times), Strait of Gibraltar, Catalina Channel, Cook Strait, Molokai Channel, Tsugaru Channel: 6 with 1 more to go.
5. Adam Walker (UK): English Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Molokai Channel, Catalina Channel, Tsugaru Channel, Cook Strait: 6 with 1 more to go.
5. Kimberly Chambers (New Zealand): Cook Strait, Molokai Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Catalina Channel, English Channel, Tsugaru Channel: 6 with 2 more to go.
8. Forrest Nelson (USA): English Channel, Catalina Channel (both ways and two-way), Molokai Channel (both ways), Tsugaru Channel and Cook Strait: 5 with 2 more more to go.
8. Craig Lenning (USA): North Channel, English Channel, Catalina Channel, Tsugaru Channel, Cook Strait: 5 with 2 more to go.
10. James Pittar (Australia): English Channel, Catalina Channel, Cook Strait and Strait of Gibraltar: 4 with 3 more to go.
10. Kevin Murphy (England): English Channel (34 times), Catalina Channel, North Channel (2 times) and Strait of Gibraltar: 4 with 3 more to go.
10. Bula Chowdhury Chakraborty (India): English Channel (twice), Catalina Channel, Cook Strait and Strait of Gibraltar: 4 with 3 more to go.
10. Tom Hecker (USA): English Channel, Catalina Channel, Cook Strait and Strait of Gibraltar: 4 with 3 more to go.
10. Pieter Christian Jongeneel Anderica (Spain): English Channel, Catalina Channel, Cook Strait and Strait of Gibraltar: 4 with 3 more to go.
10. T. Scott Coleman (USA): English Channel, Catalina Channel, Cook Strait and Strait of Gibraltar: 4 with 3 more to go.
10. Kathleen Wilson (USA): English Channel, Catalina Channel, Molokai Channel, Strait of Gibraltar: 4 with 3 more to go.
10. Pat Gallant-Charette (USA): English Channel, Catalina Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Tsugaru Channel: 4 with 3 more to go.
10. Lynne Cox (USA): English Channel (2 times), Catalina Channel (2 times), Cook Strait, Strait of Gibraltar: 4 with 3 more to go.
10. Aditya Santosh Raut (India): English Channel, Catalina Channel, Cook Strait, Strait of Gibraltar: 4 with 3 more to go.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Safeguarding Swims With The Japan Coast Guard

The Japan Coast Guard (or JCG or 海上保安庁) in Japanese, was formerly called the Maritime Safety Agency when it was founded in 1948. The JCG is the Japanese federal agency that employs about 12,000 personnel for the protection of Japanese waters and coastlines.

The Japan Coast Guard remains under the oversight of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

Its ships and personnel patrol Japan's territorial seas and between 12 – 200 nautical miles out from the shore to provide various safeguards and countermeasures.

The Japan Coast Guard works against piracy and illegal operations and resolves maritime conflict as well as provide search and rescue, oceanographic surveying and maritime traffic management. It also works with local fishermen's unions and reviews and approves solo and relay crossings of the Tsugaru Channel by swimmers attempting swims under the auspices of the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association and Ocean-navi.

"We started working with the Japan Coast Guard back in 1988 on channel swims and marathon swims. Since that time, Commander Matsuzaki and subsequent teams all over Japan from Yonaguni Island in Okinawa to the Tsugaru Channel on the shores of Hokkaido were extremely helpful in planning swims around Japan," explains Steven Munatones who works with Masayuki Moriya of Ocean-navi and Yuko Matsuzaki of the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association. "The Japan Coast Guard personnel's knowledge of the local waters, conditions, currents and marine life are extraordinary. With a typical Japanese focus on details, careful planning and deep concern for the welfare of swimmers, they have been a tremendous joy to work with over the years."

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Swimming With The Flying Dragon

It is only 19.5 km from shore to shore, a mere 12 miles at its closest point across the Tsugaru Channel.

Comparing the times of the channel crossings of the 14 swimmers who have crossed the 21-mile English Channel, the 20.2-mile Catalina Channel and the 12-mile Tsugaru Channel, the average times are comparable:

* English Channel = 13 hours 23 minutes
* Catalina Channel = 12 hours 31 minutes
* Tsugaru Channel = 13 hours 39 minutes (not including the 3 DNFs of swimmers who crossed the English Channel but not the Tsugaru Channel)

Not only does the geographic layout of the shorelines and currents cause huge eddies, but the winds and resultant surface turbulence are a forceful obstacle of the Tsugaru Channel.

The very name of one of the starting points in the Tsugaru Channel gives a hint as to why this channel is such a challenge: Tappi Misaki or 竜飛岬 in the original Japanese language means The Cape of the Flying Dragon.

"Tappi Misaki has a strong wind all year round," explains Yuko Matsuzaki of the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association and pro marathon swimmer.

"The wind around Tappi Misaki is making sounds, just like a dragon is flying in the sky. This area has a wind power generation plant. Swimmers have to understand that no matter what happens, they will face a strong wind and no one can guess how strong the wind will be on any day. This is why swimmers have to start swimming really fast in the beginning if they start on Tappi Misaki. If you think even pace, they may see DNF. 19.5 km may sounds easy. but all the swimmers who have swam in the Tsugaru Channel know it is hard."

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Monday, December 23, 2013

Free Wi-Fi In Japan For Foreign Swimmers And Crew

For an increasing number of channel swimmers who are attempting Tsugaru Channel crossings or who are participating in the increasing number of open water swims in Japan like with the Japan International Open Water Swimming Association events from Okinawa to Honshu, it is usually appreciated when Internet access is available.

Facebooking your friends and family, tweeting about your races, posting videos of your swims to YouTube have become nearly as important as is training and finding the right hydration in a foreign country.

The government of Japan is trying to make foreign swimmer's visits a bit more convenient by providing free Wi-Fi spots throughout Japan! Swimmers just need to their passport at certain locations (e.g., airports) to obtain an ID and password in order to logon to the Internet for free.

Foreign visitors are provided free use of Wi-Fi spots around Japan for 14 days (a total of 336 hours of use). Swimmers, crew members, coaches, friends and family members can pick up a free Wi-Fi card from one of the counters established at facilities such as airports and tourist information centers. The ID and password necessary to log-in are printed on the card, so you just need to enter these as directed at the different access points in Japan.

There is no need to fill out any application forms, so this service is easy and convenient for first-time visitors to Japan.

All you need is your Wi-Fi-supporting mobile device to connect to the more than 17,000 Wi-Fi spots around Japan (as of January 2013). All these access points are based on fiber optic lines, guaranteeing fast and stable communications.

For more information, visit here.

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.

Adam Walker (aka Mad Adam) found out when he became the first British male to complete a crossing of the 19.7 km Tsugaru Channel in September with his 15 hour 31 minute traverse. Mad Adam found out first-hand how tough the Tsugaru Channel is when he was escorted by Captain Mizushima.



Mad Adam 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," recalls Captain Mizushima.



"I must be honest, this swim was the hardest to date," Walker remembered. "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 and something to tweet home about…for free.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Monday, August 26, 2013

Team Umiou Completes Tsugaru Channel Crossing

From their start on Hokkaido to their finish on the rocky beach on the main island of Honshu, Team Umiou (海王うみおう》) was a bunch of very happy, very grateful, always smiling masters swimmers.

Team Umiou of Tokyo was a 6-person relay team of masters open water swimmers who completed their 12 hours 45 minute crossing of the Tsugaru Channel in Japan under the watchful eye of Captain Mizushima.

Their crossing was never easy and never guarantee, but they kept on smiling and cheering each other on as they started at 4:07 am on July 30th and finished at 4:52 pm in the 21-24ºF (69.8-75.2ºC) waters. Their north-to-south crossing was anything but linear as they were bounced around by the turbulence and were swung laterally by the strong Tsugaru Current. But they kept on course, never lost faith, and finished with their characteristic smiles.

Its members included Tomokazu Sakurai (櫻井智和), Nobu Arihisa (有久暢), Yuko Isozaki (礒崎祐子), Shinpei Kamata (鎌田慎平), Fujiko Kawasaki (川崎富士子), and Motoko Honma (本間素子).

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Adam Walker Faces Rough Water In The Tsugaru

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 channel 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

Monday, August 12, 2013

Adam Walker Completes Tsugaru Channel Quest

Adam Walker became the first British male to complete a crossing of the 19.7 km Tsugaru Channel in Japan with today's 15 hour 31 minute traverse from Honshu to Hokkaido.

Walker has now completed 5 of the 7 channels of the Oceans Seven: English Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Molokai Channel, Catalina Channel, and now the Tsugaru Channel.

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 letting me in.

I had two separate occasions when a shark swam underneath me but still have all limbs so all good
."

And now he remains on track to become the first British man to complete the Oceans Seven.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association