Friday, January 15, 2010

The Rules of the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association

The Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association Official Swim Rules

1. General Rules

All Tsuguru Channel Swimming Association swims prior to 2010 have been accepted as official.

In any Tsugaru Channel swim attempt, no swimmer shall use or be assisted by artificial aids of any kind. Swimmers are permitted to grease the body before a swim, use goggles, wear one cap, wear one porous suit, neither of which may be designed either to retain body heat or aid in buoyancy. No wetsuits are permitted, although they may be allowed for non-sanctioned swims.

During a swim, no supporting contact whatsoever with the swimmer shall be permitted by any person or object.

For a swim to be officially recognized, a swimmer must cross the Tsugaru Channel from the natural connecting shore, touch the opposite natural connecting shore and clear the water.

For double crossings to be officially recognized, a swimmer must cross the channel from the natural connecting shore, touch the opposite natural connecting shore, clear the water, return to the water directly, touch the originating natural connecting shore, and clear the water.

The timing of the swim shall start from the moment the swimmer enters the water until he/she touches the opposite natural connecting shore, and clears the water. The observer is in charge of timing the swim.

The navigator of the support boat must be a member of the Federation for the swim to be official.

Every application for recognition of a swim must be accompanied by the official observer's log (which includes the official time, any incidents, times, tides, methods of feeding, and other pertinent details), completed forms and fees. Additional evidence may be requested by the committee at their discretion.

The official observer shall be in sole charge of the timing of the swim, and shall be responsible for the interpretation of the rules, including the right to cancel the swim in adverse conditions and/or danger to the swimmer.

The Association shall not observe attempts to swim the channel by persons under the age of fourteen.

Each solo swimmer must provide details of his/her swimming experience and a detailed complete medical report issued by a licensed medical doctor within 45 days of the swimmer's attempt. This excludes chiropractors.

Paddlers and/or pacers are legal as long as they are not used as physical support by the swimmer.

A swimmer or representative must give the Secretary of the Association no fewer than 45 days notice of the proposed departure of the pilot boat.

No alcoholic beverages shall be consumed by any swimmer, observer, boat crew member, or anyone associated with the swim from dock to dock.

Each swimmer is required to pay to the Association an administrative fee no less than 45 days prior to the start of the swim, for every attempt. He/she must also be a member of the Association.

The fee reimburses expenses for: observer, Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association sanction costs, mail, calls, medals, paperwork, and other administrative expenses.

Solo Swim Sanction Fee Received Prior to May 1st is: $500.00
Solo Swim Sanction Fee Received After May 1st is: $750.00

All swims and relay fee include a non-refundable $150 Processing Fee.

Fax all forms to: Tsugaru Channel Swimming Federation: +1-714-536-7129

For an address to send fees to, send email to

Any variation from the above stated rules without prior written approval of the Association Executive Officer will negate the crossing.

A swimmer must not take any drugs that are on the U. S. Olympic Committee's list of prohibited medications.

If any situation arises which is not covered by the rules, FINA Open Water Swimming rules will be in effect. The executive office is in charge of interpretations of the rules prior to a swim. The observer is in charge of interpretations of the rules during a swim.

2. Relays

A relay team must meet all single and double General Rules that apply.

Each team shall consist of six or fewer swimmers.

Each swimmer shall swim for approximately one hour each time he/she enters the water. This time is called "a leg".

On receipt of a time signal, the changeover to the new swimmer will be made as soon as is practically possible (should be within one minute) after the previous swimmer has completed his/her respective leg, but under no circumstances more than five minutes after the end of the previous swimmer's leg. The new swimmer must touch the preceding swimmer.

Team members must rotate in the same order throughout the swim.

Each relay is required to pay the sanction fee

Relay Sanction Fee Received Prior to May 1st is: US$600.00
Relay Sanction Fee Received After May 1st is: US$750.00
All swims and relay fee include a non-refundable $150 Processing Fee.
Fax all forms to: Swimming Federation at +!-714-305-7374

Any questions, send email to

Substitution of a swimmer can only occur before a team member enters the water for his/her first leg of the swim. The substitute must have been approved prior to the relay start as an alternate. He/she must be a CCSF and USS member.

Copyright © 2011 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Monday, January 11, 2010

Channel Swimming in the Land of the Rising Sun

The Oceans Seven Challenge includes seven of the toughest channel swims in the world: (1) the cold-water, jellyfish-strewn North Channel (between Ireland and Scotland), (2) the rough and treacherous Cook Strait (between the North and South Islands of New Zealand), (3) the wildly rough and shark-filled Molokai Channel (between Oahu and Molokai Islands in Hawaii), (4) the iconic English Channel, (5) the challenging Catalina Channel, (6) the continental-crossing Strait of Gibraltar and (7) the relatively unknown Tsugaru Channel (between the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan).

While these channel swims are well-known to most marathon swimmers, the Tsugaru Channel in northern Japan presents a challenge and an adventure in part of the world that few Westerners know or visit.

We interviewed Steven Munatones, one of the early pioneers who swam across this isolated channel in 1990, about the strait in the northern Pacific Ocean that was first crossed by fellow Californian David Yudovin (shown above).

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What interested you in swimming across the Tsugaru Channel (Tsugaru Kaikyo in Japanese)?

Steven Munatones: My initial goal was swimming from the Russian island of Kunashiri to Hokkaido in Japan. I received the permission of the Russian government, with particularly strong support from Boris Yeltsin, but the swim encountered insurmountable political problems between the Japanese and Russian governments, so I decided to do the Tsugaru Kaikyo.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Where exactly is the Tsugaru Channel?

Steven Munatones: Japan has four main islands. Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto are on the largest and main island of Honshu. Sapporo, site of the 1972 Winter Olympics, is located on the northernmost island of Hokkaido. Hokkaido is off the coast of eastern Russia. The Tsugaru Channel is the 19.5 km strait at its narrowest point separating Hokkaido and Honshu. If you fly into Tokyo, you can take a bullet train (shinkansen in Japanese) for about five hours to get up to the north part of Honshu. The largest big city near the channel on the Honshu is Aomori and the largest big city near the channel on the Hokkaido side is Hakodate. On most days, you can clearly see Hokkaido from Honshu and there are ferry boats that can people across the channel, but the water flows between the two islands is tremendous. You can take a risky course starting from the absolute narrowest point, Tappi Misaki, or a less risky course where you can ride on the currents starting from the westernmost coastline of Aomori.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is that part of the world look like?

Steven Munatones: Definitely nothing like Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto. It is a rugged coastline populated by rugged, friendly people who enjoy the outdoors in an area with an abundance of natural beauty. It is largely undeveloped area with a lot of picturesque fishing villages and small towns that subsist on harvesting seaweed (nori to sushi lovers) and squid. The prefecture on the Honshu side is called Aomori where some of the world’s most delicious apples are grown – huge, juicy apples. The winters are long and harsh up here. On the Hokkaido side, there are a few larger towns, but it is also largely undeveloped with shorelines of rocky, rugged beauty.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: So it is not totally packed with people like in Tokyo?

Steven Munatones: No, it is exactly the opposite. The small hamlets have relatively sparse populations. Although the locals largely do not speak English, they are quite warm and were extremely helpful to me. They were very hospitable and were happy to have a foreigner come and learn more about their area. I stayed in the area for three weeks waiting for the right day for my swim and lived in a small inn owned by a squid fisherman who was my lead escort boat pilot. We had squid for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I could not imagine how many ways his wife prepared squid. Before dawn, Maki-san would go out and fish in the waters of the Tsugaru Channel – as his father and his grandfather once did. He apparently knew every inch of that waterway. He let me go out and really taught me a lot about the channel, its particularities, its currents and its marine life.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How did you plan for the swim?

Steven Munatones: Besides Maki-san, I worked with the engineers who had just finished building the Seikan Tunnel, the world's deepest and longest undersea tunnel under the Tsugaru Channel which had just opened. The Seikan Tunnel, which trains use to pass between the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido, is an engineering marvel like the Chunnel in the English Channel. I also talked and plotted with the divers who helped maintain the Seikan Tunnel. They were actually staying at Maki-san’s inn, too. They would often dive down to 200 meters to monitor the Tunnel and, therefore, knew a lot about the currents and water temperature. Every day, they would go out and tell me what the currents and conditions were like along my planned course. The local Japanese Coast Guard was also very helpful in providing me with loads of information.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Was it a tough swim?

Steven Munatones: It was difficult primarily because so much was unknown about the Tsugaru Channel from a swimmer's perspective. However, a few weeks before I did my crossing, David Yudovin crossed the channel in 11 hours and 55 minutes, so I was confident it could be crossed. But since David became the first person to swim from Honshu to Hokkaido, I did a double-crossing which turned out to be my longest swim of my life.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How did you train for this swim?

Steven Munatones: I trained very hard for this swim. I swam at least 12,000 meters per day in a pool five days per week and did at least one weekend open water practice per week between early March and late July. I also had a good background in long distance training since I had trained under Jim Montrella, a renowned coach of distance swimmers in the US, Ed Spencer and Penny Dean, the English Channel record holder at that time. I started training in Lake Biwa, near Kyoto, in early March even though I only lasted literally a few seconds in the cold water in the first few training sessions. But by April, I had built up to several minutes and my last open water swim before I headed up to the channel was 21 miles. I really had no idea how long my double-crossing would take, so I knew I had to be mentally and physically prepared to swim at least 24 hours, so I put in some serious training sessions.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Why did you swim so much in the pool for a channel swim?

Steven Munatones: I knew I needed good speed to work my way across the currents in the channel. The Tsugaru Channel is known for its fast currents that flow between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean. In fact, many of the large oil tankers that travel from the Middle East to the west coast of America travel through the Tsugaru Channel to apparently take advantage of these currents. When the tankers travel through the channel they get the benefit of a tremendous push out to the Pacific. In order to cross these massive water flows in the time that I wanted, we calculated the necessary speed that I had to maintain. I had to maintain a 1:15 - 1:20 per 100 meters pace for the crossing. So I just did sets of between five and fifteen 1000-meter swims in the pool day after day after day.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Wasn't that boring?

Steven Munatones: Yes, unbelievably boring - especially because I did it by myself. A friend gave me keys to his pool and I would go to the pool by myself and swim from 4 - 7 am before work. On the weekends, I very much looked forward to swimming in the lake and the ocean.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What kind of workouts did you do in the ocean and lake?

Steven Munatones: Nothing special, I just worked on cold water acclimatization and building up to be able to swim for long distances. I worked my way from, literally, a few seconds in the first training sessions to six swims over 16 miles. In my last preparation swim, I swam for nearly 9 hours. I would swam parallel to the shoreline in relatively shallow waters and set a cooler of drinks and food on a fishing dock. Every 30-45 minutes, I swam over to the dock, grabbed my food or drinks and then continued on. Because these training swims were all done by myself, it was great mental training and helped me prepare emotionally for the swim. It was so easy to just get out. But on my last swim, I was so tired that I couldn’t get home. I ended up checking into a hotel that was near the dock and slept a long, hard sleep. But, after that swim, I was confident that I could go up to 24 hours if necessary.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Did you run into any problems?

Steven Munatones: Not really, fortunately. I had a great crew and a main escort boat piloted by Maki-san, although other boats came around to watch or help. I was able to swim from Tappi Misaki on Honshu to southern coast of Hokkaido in 6 hours and 11 minutes on the way over. From Hokkaido back to Honshu, I took 6 hours and 41 minutes, so I was almost able to negative-split the swim. I started about 7 pm. On the way over, it was cloudy and therefore quite dark throughout the swim, but on the way back, the cloud cover moved and the moonlight shining on the channel created an eerie beauty that channel swimmers can always appreciate. I got a little scared in the very beginning when I took off from Honshu. The ocean swells were large and after about 100 meters, I couldn't see my escort boat. They were momentarily working on their boat lights and I didn't have a paddler or kayaker. In the middle of the night, I couldn't see the boat – I was scared to say the least. But they got the lights back on and my heart rate soon settled down.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Any other problems?

Steven Munatones: I had to stop for an oil tanker and was just treading in the water which got me a little cold on the way back. The Japanese Coast Guard was monitoring my progress so I just eggbeatered in the ocean for several minutes. Finally, I just decided to swim in large circles around the escort boats to keep warm. But, Maki-san did a great job and he was rarely out of position. We had great feedings and our planned course was right on plan. There were several cameramen on the media boat and they all got sick in the large swells. Looking through a TV camera and going up and down in the swells had to be tough.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Who has also done this swim?

Steven Munatones: David Yudovin did the first crossing a few weeks before me. He had to wait for five weeks for conditions to be right. Since then, several relays have crossed the channel as well as Miyuki Fujita, the Japanese English Channel Queen. One of the most amazing channel swimmers I know, James Pittar of Australia is also going to give it a try as part of his Oceans Seven Challenge.

With the exponential growth of open water swimming in Japan, I foresee a lot of people also attempting the channel either solo or with relays. I am sure one day someone will try another double-crossing and there may even be the triple-crossing a la Jon Erikson, Philip Rush and Alison Streeter in the English Channel.

As the world’s waterways continues to attract more and more swimmers looking for unique and interesting challenges of all types, Oceans Seven - including the Tsugaru Channel – will find more people making their way across.

Copyright © 2009 by World Open Water Swimming Association>




2005年8月30日 津軽海峡1-way 11時間36分
津軽海峡3-way 37時間24分
 11時間43分(青→北) + 2nd leg 15時間28分(北→青)+ 3rd leg 10時間13分(青→北)
2009年9月02日 津軽海峡縦横断1-way 16時間45分

「東奥日報」(青森の新聞)より ― 2009年8月27日(木)― 津軽海峡、横断泳ラッシュ





 次の日(2日)の朝9時頃だったか? 安宅さんから再び電話が入り、「船は出られるが、どうする?」と聞かれると、モヤモヤした気持ちが吹っ切れ、「行きます!」と返事をした。それからは計画書や飛行機の変更、海上保安部への連絡など、バタバタ状態であらゆる手続きをクリアにし、12時に浜町の港を出て4時間ぐらいかけて青森の小泊に移動した。途中、南の風で波を見ながら、景色を見ながらの船の移動は快適だったが、着いてからも準備でバタバタ状態は続いていた。
 やっとここまできたが、まだ明日にならなければ天候がどう変化するかわからない。不安を抱えながら眠れずにいると、隣ではコーチのいびきがうるさい。3時港集合だったが、2時でもいい感じだよ。いや「一睡も出来ないならもっと早くてもいい感じかな? “1時スタート”でも構わない」と思ったぐらいだ。どうせ寝むれないんだから。




 安宅さんは、「明日は凪だよ」と言った通り、スタートから何時間だろうか? 凪は続いた。昨日船から見た波を思い出しながら泳ぐ。


 確か4時間ぐらいかかった所だったか? 荒波が大好きな私は楽しくて仕方がない。途中ゴーグルが擦れたりして何回も直したよ。でもこの荒波で中止にしたくない。船に上がらせられるといけないので、一生懸命船の前方を泳ぎ、『追い付いてくるな!』という気持ちで泳いCopyright © 2011 by Open Water Sourceでいた。


 船に上がってからは、戸井港まで2時間ぐらいかかっただろうか? 熟睡してしまい、港では北海道新聞の記者、石井さんから取材を受けた。「もう22時を回っていたのに。待っていてくれて有難う」


3-wayは左から 1st leg 2nd leg 3rd leg と続いている(2006年)

津軽の神様 VS キンちゃん

日テレ「24時間テレビ」、「津軽海峡横断リレー リベンジ!」
 8月24日(月)函館着。泳ぐ期間は27日(木)から9月1日(火)まで。ただ8月29日(土)から31日(月)までは日本テレビ放送網で放映される「24時間テレビ」(30日放送)、「津軽海峡横断リレー リベンジ!」の企画が入っているため使えない。我々としてはこの企画の前に泳ぎ終わっていたかった。しかし27、28日と風が強く、泳ぐことは出来なかった。


ご機嫌回復! 第61栄幸丸で小泊に向かう


左からキンちゃん 安宅さん(弟) 安宅さん(兄)
 スタート後、第61栄幸丸は北西に舵を取る。それはあたかもゴール地点の戸井とは遠ざかる進路なのだが、慎重な安宅さんは津軽海峡西口(竜飛崎~白神岬)中央を通過したかったのだ。まるで日本テレビの「津軽海峡横断リレー リベンジ!」のサンプルになるような福島に向かうコースである。






< 津 軽 泳 の 詳 細 >
日付:2009年 9月 2日(火)
方法:1-way solo swim(縦横断泳)
結果:03:44⇒20:29 16時間45分 リタイヤ
概況:天気 晴れ時々曇り
   視界 10海里(20km)
   風向 主に東
   風速 1.3~12.0m/sec
   気温 18.6~23.9℃
   水温 20.5~23.0℃
   波高 0.5~2.0m
   ピッチ 59~67回/分
   補給 炭水化物+果糖+茶類=300ml/40分毎
   流向 北東および東北東方向(海流)
   流速 0.0~4.0kn(0.0~7.4km/h)
潮汐:函館(北緯 41度47.0分 東経140度44.0分)
   日出 05:03       日入 18:09
   月出 16:53       月入 02:19
   月齢 12.7        潮名 中潮
   満潮 01:29 0.92m    干潮 08:35 0.29m
   満潮 15:21 0.85m    干潮 20:31 0.56m
船頭:安宅 勉

※ 津軽海峡の主な流れの成分は「海流」であって、日本海から太平洋に向かって流れている。この海流に対し、「山背」などの主な風は東風が多く、特に竜飛(青森県津軽半島最北端)は“風の名所”として有名で、風力発電の風車がいくつも見られる。
※ 今回は竜飛の風速が10m/sec以下で実施した。津軽海峡内の風が竜飛の風以下だと想像できたからだ。ただ風向きが西ならもっと良かった。Copyright © 2010 by World Open Water Swimming Association