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Oceans Seven


The Oceans Seven was highlighted on page one in the Wall Street Journal along with an explanatory video.

The Oceans Seven (or also informally known as Ocean’s Seven or Ocean’s 7 or Oceans 7) is open water swimming’s version of the Seven Summits. The Seven Summits are the highest mountains in each of the seven continents. It was first proposed in 2009 by Steven Munatones.

Seven Summits

348 people have completed the Seven Summits and climbed Kilimanjaro (5,892m / 19,340 ft) in Africa, Vinson Massif (4,892 m / 16,050 ft) in Antarctica, either Kosciuszko (2,228m / 7,310 ft) or Carstensz Pyramid (4,884m / 16,024 ft) in Australia, Everest (8,848m / 29,035 ft) in Asia, Elbrus (5,642m / 18,510 ft) in Europe, Mount McKinley (6,194m / 20,320 ft) in North America, and Aconcagua (6,962m / 22,841 ft) in South America).

In contrast, Stephen Redmond of Ireland is the only human in history who has completed the Oceans Seven and successfully swum the English Channel (between England and France), North Channel (between Scotland and Ireland, Catalina Channel (between Catalina Island and the Southern Californian mainland, USA), Molokai Channel (between Oahu and Molokai islands in Hawaii, USA), Tsugaru Channel (between Honshu and Hokkaido islands in Japan), Cook Strait (between North and South islands in New Zealand) and Strait of Gibraltar (between Spain and Morocco).

Oceans Seven

The Oceans Seven consists of the following waterways around the world:

1. North Channel between Ireland and Scotland
2. Cook Strait between the North and South Islands of New Zealand
3. Molokai Channel between Oahu and Molokai Islands in Hawaii
4. English Channel between England and France
5. Catalina Channel between Catalina Island and the Southern California mainland
6. Tsugaru Channel between the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan
7. Strait of Gibraltar between Europe and Africa

History of the Oceans Seven

Stephen Redmond is the first and only person to complete the Oceans Seven which was first proposed by Steven Munatones on 23 June 2008 after learning about the Seven Summits. He thought the open water swimming community deserved an aquatic equivalent of the Seven Summits. A little more than 4 years later, Stephen Redmond became the first person to complete the Oceans Seven on 14 July 2012 with a 12 hour 45 minute crossing of the Tsugaru Channel.

Achieving the Oceans Seven requires an ability to swim in both very cold and very warm seas. It also demands the swimmer is physically and mentally prepared to overcome every condition known to defeat open water swimmers, from strong currents to stiff winds, from jellyfish to rough seas. Like its mountaineering cousin, the Oceans Seven requires a tremendous amount of planning, time, financial resources and multi-national support teams of knowledgeable local experts.

There are also relay teams that attempt to complete all 7 channels in the Oceans Seven.

Swims of the Oceans Seven

The distances listed are the shortest straight-line distances from point-to-point, but the actual distance covered by swimmers is significantly greater due to the tidal movements and currents.

1. North Channel
Location: Channel between Ireland and Scotland. Also referred to as the Irish Channel.
Reasons for Difficulty: Heavy seas, cold water, thunderstorms and strong currents are among the natural elements that must be overcome in the 33.7K (21 miles) channel.
Window of Opportunity: July through September.
Hazards: Considered to be the most difficult channel swim in the world with the water temperature 54ºF (12ºC), normally overcast days, and tremendous difficulty in accurately predicting weather and water conditions. Swimmers face large pods of jellyfish if conditions are calm.
Description: Has been attempted at least 73 times since 1924, but only 8 successful solo swims and 5 relays have been achieved to date. Most of the attempts have been abandoned due to difficult conditions and hypothermia.
Additional Information: Swim crossings are governed by the rules set by the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association. First attempt was made in 1924 and the first success was 1947.

2. Cook Strait
Location: Channel between the North and South Islands of New Zealand.
Reasons for Difficulty: 16 nautical miles (26K) across immense tidal flows in icy water conditions among jellyfish and sharks are extremely stiff challenges for only the most capable and adventurous swimmers.
Window of Opportunity: November through May.
Hazards: 1 in 6 swimmers encounter sharks on their crossings. Sharks only come around to be nosey. No one has ever been attached during a swim. Both sides of the strait have rock cliffs. Cold water (14ºC-19ºC or 57ºC-66ºF) over 26 kilometers and heavy chop.
Additional Information: To date, only 71 successful crossings have been made by 61 individuals from 8 countries. Hypothermia and change in weather conditions during a race are the most common reasons attempts fail.
Website: [ Cook Strait]

3. Molokai Channel (or the Kaiwi Channel)
Location: Channel between the western coast of Molokai Island and the eastern coast of Oahu in Hawaii.
Reasons for Difficulty: 26 miles (41.8K) across a deep-water (701 meters) channel with extraordinarily strong currents in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and aggressive marine life.
Window of Opportunity: As conditions permit.
Hazards: Extremely large rolling swells, strong winds and tropical heat and very warm salty water offset the incredibly beautiful views of the Hawaiian Islands and deep-blue underwater scenery.
Additional Information: Deep-water channel with beautiful views of the Hawaiian Islands was first crossed in 1961 by Keo Nakama in 15 hours and 30 minutes and has only been crossed by 8 individuals to date.

4. English Channel (Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation or Channel Swimming Association)
Location: Channel between England and France with the narrowest point being in the Strait of Dover between Shakespeare Beach, Dover, England and Calais, France.
Reasons for Difficulty: An international waterway of 34K (21 miles) at its narrowest point, cold water temperatures, strong currents and ever-shifting water and weather conditions. </br> Window of Opportunity: June to September.
Hazards: The world’s most famous channel crossing with nearly 1,000 successful swimmers to date, but thousands of failed attempts due to strong currents and tidal flows, strong winds and whitecaps caused by changing conditions and hypothermia.
Additional Information: Considered to be the standard for channel crossing with the rules and traditions significantly influencing the worldwide open water swimming community.
Websites: [ Channel Swimming Association and Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation]

5. Catalina Channel
Location: Channel between Santa Catalina Island and Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. Formal name is the San Pedro Channel.
Reasons for Difficulty: Cold water (especially near coast), strong currents, potential for strong winds, marine life and distance. Shortest point-to-point course is 33.7K (21 miles) from Emerald Bay on Santa Catalina Island to the San Pedro Peninsula.
Window of Opportunity: June to September.
Hazards: A deep-water channel that is comparable to the English Channel in terms of water conditions, difficulty, distance and the physical and mental challenges to the swimmer, although the water temperature is a bit warmer (mid-60°F water). Marine life seen on occasion, including migrating whales and large pods of dolphins.
Additional Information: First successful swim was in January, 1927 when Canadian George Young won $25,000 in the Wrigley Ocean Marathon Swim in 15 hours and 44 minutes.
Website: [ Catalina Channel Swimming Federation]

6. Tsugaru Channel
Location: Deep-water channel between Honshu, the main island of Japan where Tokyo is located, and Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. Closest points are Tappi Misaki (竜飛岬) in Honshu and Shirakami Misaki (白神岬) in Hokkaido.
Reasons for Difficulty: An international waterway, 19.5 km (12 miles) at its narrowest point. Swimmers must cross an extremely strong current between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean, large swells and abundant marine life ranging from sharks to deadly sea snakes. English and other western languages are not spoken in area. Water can be between 62–68ºF (16–20ºC). The most common course among successful swimmers is a 30 km course between Kodomori Cape on Honshu and Cape Shirakami on Hokkaido.
Window of Opportunity: July and August.
Hazards: Swimmers are swept long distances due to the extraordinarily strong currents flowing from the Sea of Japan to the Pacific Ocean. Swimmers face large blooms of squid during the night. Swimmers are challenged by occasional patches of cold water that flow up from the depths and are caused by the screws of the large oil tankers from the Middle East travel through to the West Coast of the U.S.
Additional Information: Only four confirmed solo crossings and one confirmed double-crossing have been achieved to date.
Website: [ Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association]

7. Strait of Gibraltar
Location: Strait between Spain and Morocco that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. Shortest point is between Punta Oliveros in Spain and Punta Cires in Morocco.
Reasons for Difficulty: 14.4K (8 miles) across an eastern flow of water from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea with an average of 3 knots (5.5 km per hour). Heavy boat traffic, logistical barriers and surface chop confront swimmers throughout each attempt.
Window of Opportunity: June to October.
Hazards: Its boundaries were known in antiquity as the Pillars of Hercules. The currents remain of Herculean strength. Combined with the unpredictability of the water conditions and high winds, only 185 successful one-way crossings and 7 double-crossings have been made to date.
Additional Information: Most attempts are made from Tarifa Island due to the influence of strong currents, a distance of 18.5– 22K (10– 12 miles).
Website: [ Strait of Gibraltar Swimming Association]

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