Courtesy of Masayuki Moriya of Ocean Navi in the Tsugaru Channel, Japan.
It was not looking good for Nora Toledano Cadena and Mariel Hawley Dávila, two Mexican swimmers, to be able to attempt a second attempt at crossing the Tsugaru Channel.
The veteran pair of marathon swimmers had been frustrated before when they traveled from their native Mexico City to northern Japan. It seemed like déjà vu and they were being frustrated again by Mother Nature.
Over night, the conditions in the fickle channel suddenly went from impossibly turbulent to possibly doable and the women and their escort pilot Captain Mizushima decided on a risky strategy of departing in the early morning at 1:15 am from Kodomari Benten Cape, a more conservative course on the Kodomari Route.
Masayuki Moriya from Ocean Navi reported, "[Starting area] Aomori was often rough due to a low pressure system that was sweeping through. Nora and Mariel had originally scheduled to depart the previous day on June 30th; fortunately, the weather unexpectedly became settled just before their departure in the morning."
The women didn't sleep well with anxiety, but they were also excited about this small window of opportunity.
They gathered at Tappi Misaki port to meet Captain Mizushima, but a thick bank of fog also greeted them. Then rain began to fall through the darkness. But the wind died and the infamous Tsugaru Current fizzled to nothing.
"What was looking like a disaster of another long trip to Japan where they could not swim turned into a wonderful gift of nature," commented Steven Munatones "The conditions turned out to be the best for channel swimming in a very long time as the current was pushing them towards the opposite shoreline of Hokkaido at up to 5 km per hour."
They arrived in Hokkaido on the small beachfront under the Shirakami Misaki Lighthouse which has traditionally been one of the most difficult points along the Hokkaido shore to finish.
The pair swam stroke-for-stroke the entire course and kept up a blistering pace with the favorable currents.
Ultimately, they stood again on land at 7:36 am, setting a women's record with a fast time of 6 hours 20 minutes 52 seconds.
Toledano, an Honor Swimmer in the International Marathon Swimming of Hall Class of 2006, said, "The sea was so welcoming. I feel very happy about this experience of being able to cross Tsugaru, now my fifth Oceans Seven channel. It was wonderful having my support team aboard including my son Max López and my mother Dora Cadena, as well as many friends helping us and sending good vibes from afar."
Hawley was equally ecstatic, "Never mind when someone tells you that you are not strong enough to get through a storm, because actually sometimes, one is the fortress battling the storm. We completed the Tsugaru crossing. I entered the sea in Tappi at one in the morning with a deep humility and gratitude. 6 hours and 20 minutes later, I emerged from the water in Hokkaido with Nora together in pure friendship and love that I was able to share in her fifth Oceans Seven swim."
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