Swimming is often seen as a leisurely activity, but for some, it is an extreme sport that pushes the limits of human endurance. The Oceans Seven, a series of seven open water swims around the world, is considered one of the most challenging and dangerous swimming feats. In this article, we will explore the Oceans Seven swims, the risks involved, and the athletes who have conquered these treacherous waters.
Conquering the Most Treacherous Swims on Earth
The Oceans Seven is a collection of seven open water swims located in various parts of the world. These swims are considered the most dangerous and demanding in the sport of open water swimming. To complete the Oceans Seven challenge, swimmers must conquer each of these seven swims:
- English Channel: The English Channel is the most famous and iconic swim of the Oceans Seven. It is a 21-mile stretch of water between England and France, known for its strong currents, unpredictable weather, and heavy shipping traffic. Swimmers must battle freezing temperatures, jellyfish stings, and exhaustion to cross the channel.
- North Channel: Located between Northern Ireland and Scotland, the North Channel is known for its icy waters and strong currents. Swimmers must endure extremely cold temperatures and navigate through treacherous tides to complete this swim.
- Molokai Channel: Also known as the Kaiwi Channel, this swim takes place in Hawaii and spans 26 miles between the islands of Molokai and Oahu. Swimmers must contend with strong currents, large waves, and the presence of sharks in these deep Pacific waters.
- Catalina Channel: Situated off the coast of Southern California, the Catalina Channel is a 21-mile swim from Santa Catalina Island to the mainland. Swimmers face strong currents, cold water, and the possibility of encountering marine life such as dolphins and sea lions.
- Tsugaru Strait: Located in Japan, the Tsugaru Strait is a 12.5-mile swim between the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. Swimmers must battle strong currents, dense fog, and jellyfish infestations to complete this challenging swim.
- Cook Strait: Situated between the North and South Islands of New Zealand, the Cook Strait is known for its unpredictable weather, strong currents, and cold waters. Swimmers must navigate through rough seas and potentially encounter sharks and seals during this 16-mile swim.
- Strait of Gibraltar: This swim takes place in the narrow strait between Spain and Morocco, known for its strong currents and busy shipping traffic. Swimmers must contend with cold water temperatures, jellyfish stings, and challenging tidal patterns during their 9-mile journey.
Dive into Danger: Exploring the Oceans Seven Swims
Each of the Oceans Seven swims presents its own unique set of challenges and dangers. Swimmers who attempt these treacherous waters must be physically and mentally prepared to face the following risks:
- Cold Water: Many of the Oceans Seven swims take place in waters with temperatures ranging from 10 to 18 degrees Celsius (50 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit). Swimmers must endure freezing temperatures for several hours, which can lead to hypothermia and loss of dexterity.
- Strong Currents: The currents in some of the Oceans Seven swims can be incredibly powerful and unpredictable. Swimmers must navigate through these currents, which can pull them off course and make progress challenging.
- Marine Life: Swimmers may encounter various marine life during their swims, including jellyfish, sharks, and seals. Jellyfish stings can cause severe pain and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions. Sharks, although rare, pose a significant threat to swimmers in some locations.
- Weather Conditions: The weather can change rapidly during open water swims, especially in regions prone to storms and high winds. Swimmers must be prepared to face strong winds, heavy rain, and rough seas, which can make the swim even more challenging.
- Distance and Endurance: The Oceans Seven swims range from 9 to 26 miles in length, requiring swimmers to have excellent endurance and stamina. It can take several hours to complete each swim, and fatigue can set in, making it even more difficult to finish.
- Navigation: Navigating through open water can be challenging, especially without the aid of visual markers. Swimmers must rely on their training and knowledge of currents to stay on course and reach their destination.
Surviving the Ultimate Test: The Oceans Seven Challenge
The Oceans Seven challenge is not for the faint of heart. It requires years of training, preparation, and experience to attempt and complete these treacherous swims. Only a select few athletes have managed to conquer all seven swims and earn the title of Oceans Seven swimmer.
One of the most well-known Oceans Seven swimmers is American Sarah Thomas. In 2019, Sarah became the first person to swim the English Channel four times consecutively, totaling a distance of 84 miles. Her incredible feat showcased her determination and resilience in the face of extreme challenges.
Another notable Oceans Seven swimmer is Australian Chloë McCardel. In 2015, Chloë completed the Oceans Seven challenge in just 124 days, setting a new record for the fastest completion time. Her achievement highlighted her exceptional endurance and mental strength.
The Oceans Seven challenge has also attracted swimmers from various countries, including the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Japan. Each swimmer brings their own unique story and motivation to conquer these dangerous waters, but they all share a common desire to push the boundaries of human capability.
Defying Death: The 7 Most Perilous Swims Worldwide
The Oceans Seven swims are undoubtedly some of the most perilous swimming challenges in the world. However, they are not the only treacherous swims that test the limits of human endurance. Here are seven additional swims that are known for their extreme conditions and risks:
- The Hellespont: This swim takes place in Turkey, crossing the Dardanelles Strait. Swimmers face strong currents, cold water, and the risk of colliding with large cargo ships.
- Lake Zurich: Located in Switzerland, Lake Zurich is known for its cold water temperatures and unpredictable weather conditions. Swimmers must be prepared to face strong winds and waves during this challenging swim.
- Rottnest Channel: Situated in Western Australia, the Rottnest Channel is a 12.5-mile swim known for its strong currents and the presence of sharks. Swimmers must navigate through these treacherous waters to reach their destination.
- Loch Ness: Famous for its mythical creature, Loch Ness in Scotland is also a challenging swim. Swimmers must contend with cold water temperatures, strong winds, and the potential for poor visibility in these deep and murky waters.
- Lake Baikal: Located in Siberia, Russia, Lake Baikal is the deepest and oldest freshwater lake in the world. Swimmers who attempt to cross this massive body of water face freezing temperatures, strong winds, and the risk of encountering seals and other wildlife.
- Strait of Magellan: Situated in Chile, the Strait of Magellan is known for its strong currents, freezing temperatures, and unpredictable weather. Swimmers must battle these challenging conditions to complete the swim.
- Lake Titicaca: Located on the border of Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. Swimmers who take on the challenge of crossing this lake must endure freezing temperatures, high altitude, and potential altitude sickness.
These additional swims provide further evidence of the incredible feats that swimmers are willing to undertake in their pursuit of pushing the limits of human endurance and conquering the most perilous waters on Earth.
Q1: How long does it take to complete the Oceans Seven challenge?
A1: The time it takes to complete the Oceans Seven challenge varies depending on the swimmer’s speed and conditions. On average, it can take several years to complete all seven swims.
Q2: How many swimmers have completed the Oceans Seven challenge?
A2: As of now, around 22 swimmers have successfully completed the Oceans Seven challenge.
Q3: Are there any age restrictions for attempting the Oceans Seven swims?
A3: There are no specific age restrictions for attempting the Oceans Seven swims. However, swimmers must be in excellent physical condition and have the necessary experience and training.
Q4: Are wetsuits allowed during the Oceans Seven swims?
A4: Wetsuits are generally not allowed during the Oceans Seven swims, as most swimmers prefer to swim without them to adhere to traditional open water swimming rules. Swimmers typically wear only a swimsuit, cap, and goggles.
Q5: Can swimmers use any aids during the Oceans Seven swims?
A5: Swimmers are generally not allowed to use aids such as fins, snorkels, or flotation devices during the Oceans Seven swims. They must rely solely on their own physical abilities to complete the challenge.
Q6: What is the success rate for completing the Oceans Seven challenge?
A6: The success rate for completing the Oceans Seven challenge is relatively low, with only a small percentage of swimmers successfully completing all seven swims.
Q7: Are there any safety measures in place during the Oceans Seven swims?
A7: Each swim is carefully planned and monitored by a support crew, which includes a boat and experienced professionals. Swimmers are accompanied by their support crew throughout the swim to ensure their safety and provide assistance if needed.