How are you feeling, sir?” asked Darren Miller to Stephen Redmond on the
shores of the Tsugaru Channel yesterday when they first met in Tappi
Misaki in Japan.

Couldn’t be better.  I am ready to get this [channel swim] done with,” said the Irish swimmer who has already completed swims across the North
Channel, English Channel, Catalina Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Cook
Strait and Molokai Channel. “And you?”

I’m ready to go too. Let’s get it done,” replied the American who is also in the hunt to complete the Oceans Seven with the English Channel, Catalina Channel, Strait of Gibraltar and Molokai Channel under his cap. “I’m clipped like I always do [before a swim].”

The conditions could not be more perfect for the two swimmers looking at add the Tsugaru Channel to their resume.  For Redmond, the Tsugaru Channel will represent his last chapter of the Oceans Seven. “Oh, the people I have met around the world doing these channel swims have been wonderful.

From Forrest Nelson who never took his eyes off of me in a [$&#(?/) of a swim across the Catalina Channel to Philip Rush and the Irish community down in New Zealand. They were something else.  They really took care of me. Philip covered every little detail and did not leave anything to chance. He knew what he was doing and the Irish people really look after one another.”

It is such a special community of people. People like Linda Kaiser in Hawaii who really take up in and care for you.  I swam Molokai 10 days after doing a tough swim across the Cook Strait. I couldn’t lift my arm after the Cook Strait. I mean Philip really pushed me.  I flew straight to Hawaii after the Cook Strait, but I did not know how I was going to make it. It was tough. But Linda really took care of me. She had my days all planned out for me. She made me do an easy swim each morning, then a walk and a massage. She really knew what she was doing. She even had me walk during my recovery. The tropical warmth in Hawaii did wonders for my body. By the time my Molokai Channel attempt was going to start, Linda had whipped me back into shape. What a lady!”

Captain Mizushima of Japan will be escorting the men across the Tsugaru Channel. “The water can change quickly and today (Tuesday for Miller) and tomorrow (Wednesday for Redmond) are good. Then the weather turns [bad].”

Captain Mizushima, a tuna fisherman who once caught a 253 kg tuna, knows the Tsugaru Channel well as the primary escort boat captain of the Ocean Navi relay teams that plan to tackle the Tsugaru Channel this summer. “We have a team of 8 who will swim 20 minutes per leg,” said coach Masayuki Moriya. “And then another team of 6. Captain Mizushima really knows what he is doing. He never takes his eyes off the swimmer and stays closely alongside the swimmer the whole way. Safety is his primary concern.”

We start at the first hint of daylight,” directed Captain Mizushima who told Miller and Redmond to be at his boat by 2:30 am. Because of the requirements of the local fishing cooperative, the swimmers have to finish by sundown. “We go during the longest days of the year, so the swimmers have the best chance of finishing. Sundown is time out – the swim is over because we are not allowed to swim at night,” explained Moriya. “If we start at 4 am, we have to be finished by 7:10 pm giving the swimmers 15 hours 10 minutes to cross the channel.”

Miller and Redmond will have a little more than 15 hours to cross the channel and write another chapter in his personal marathon swimming history.

Miller began at 4:10 am local time in 68 degree F. water in a bit of patchy seas. He was swimming into a slight current but it is predicted to change in a few hours.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source


 

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