As one of the toughest swimming marathons, the Ocean's 7 has never been completed. It demands endurance and dedication, as well as a rare mental conditioning.
Competitors must swim:
- the North Channel (also known as the Irish Channel)
- Cook Strait, the stretch of water between the north and south islands of New Zealand
- Molokai Channel, Hawaii
- English Channel
- Catalina Channel, off the coast of California
- Tsugaru Strait, Japan
- Strait of Gibraltar
This means the Ocean's 7 provides various swimming conditions, from very cold to warm seas and strong currents to stiff winds. Theses conditions may also change depending on the time of year.
Like the Seven Summits challenge, the Ocean's 7 can take place over a number of years. Steve Redmond began his attempt in 2009, when he swam the English Channel. Next he tackled the North Channel, starting in Scotland and ending in Belfast harbour in 2010, and became only the second person to complete the 35km swim. Amazingly, he completed this on his first attempt!
Last Friday, Redmond got a little bit further to completing the Ocean's 7 challenge, by swimming the Cook Strait between New Zealand's north and south islands. Although he claims he had 'an awful lot of luck', theres clearly more to it than that.
A member if his support crew, Eoin Darby said:
We can only imagine what this feels like. But, like The Wild Geese, endurance and dedication are parts of Redmond's character. All he needed was something to strive for - to keep his mental state as vigorous as his physical one.
For Patrick Sarsfield and The Wild Geese, this was the vision of Ireland. Their mutual love stayed with them and encouraged them through difficult times. For Redmond, he kept the thought of his two children with him with every stroke he took and focused on the autism centre in West cork, Ireland he is supporting.
But that didn't mean this swim was easy.
'Every time you stopped you could lose 10 metres' he explained. 'It took two hours to swim a kilometre and a half.. It beats you mentally and physically'.
Redmond's support team are essential parts of completion the Ocean's 7 Challenge.
'I really thought it was trying to kill me and did not like me... there's days when the water just doesn't like you and it can be a widowmaker'
He even had celebrated New Zealand ocean swimmer Phillip Rush travel alongside him in a boat, offering his support and expertise.
Steve's story is not just one of endurance, but also one of community. This was essential to The Wild Geese, who integrated with different communities across the world, while also letting their Irish culture flourish. In New Zealand, the local Irish community gathered on the beach to wish him well and helped Steve with his accommodation.
'It was quite humbling to have people like that help me. You come to Wellington and you feel like you've been here before. We're very lucky to have a group of Irish like that here'
Steve took just over twelve hours to complete the exhausting 26km swim, and averaged at 52 strokes a minute. Next on his agenda is the Molokai Channel in Hawaii and the Tsugaru Strait in Japan. Redmond certainly embodies the inspiring nature of The Wild Geese.
|Steve Redmond's route between the north and south islands of New Zealand|