I just watched a documentary about Steve Redmond completing the Ocean’s Seven and thought it was about time I talked about them on my blog…
The Seven Summits are the highest mountains on each of the seven continents. The Ocean’s Seven is a similar list and challenge for long distance swimmers rather than mountaineers: a collection of open water swims across seven channels/straits around the world.
They are as follows, in no particular order and with approximate distances:
List of Ocean’s Seven Channel Swims
- The Irish or North Channel: between Ireland and Scotland, 21 miles (34 km)
- The Cook Strait: between New Zealand’s North and South Islands, 16 miles (26km)
- The Moloka’i or Kaiwi Channel: between Hawaiian islands of Moloka’i and O’ahu, 27 miles (44km)
- The English Channel: between England and France, 21 miles (34km)
- The Catalina Channel: between Santa Catalina Island and Los Angeles, 21 miles (34km)
- The Tsugaru Strait: between the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido, 12 miles (20km)*
- The Strait of Gibraltar: between Spain and Morocco, 8 miles (14km)
(*I helped organise a kayak crossing of the Tsugaru Strait in 2011)
Who’s completed the Ocean’s Seven Challenge?
When I was a university student I got excited about the Seven Summits and thought completing it would be a novel challenge but it’s now very popular and has been completed by about 250+ people.
In contrast, only six people have ever completed the Ocean’s Seven swims (at least according to Wikipedia). Steve Redmond was the first in 2012.
Of course, this number is largely so low due to the list’s recent invention. With swimming adventures becoming increasingly popular it may grow quickly.
However, whereas it’s possible to pay guides to “drag” comparative novices up big mountains, there is little that money can do to make your swim easier. As such, we may not see such a rapid increase in completions as there has been with the Seven Summits because there is no “short cut to the top”, you just have to be really good at swimming a long way.
(N.B. Contrary to the photograph above, open water swimmers very rarely use wetsuits)
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You might also like: What are the Seven Seas?
Another reason for less popularity might be that the choice of the Ocean’s Seven is less obvious than the Seven Summits (which in turn also leave some choice). For example, St. Catalina is just one of many small islands, and has been chosen mainly due to the poplarity of a swimming event there, which in turn thrives on the large population of Los Angeles.
Some of the more “convincing” straits passages would be Djibuti to Jemen, Oman to Iran, Korea to Japan, Australia to New Guinea, SIngapore to Sumatra, Alaska to Siberia, India to Sri Lanka, Fehmarn to Jutland. The Channel and Great Britain to Ireland certainly are top. The challange also could be defined as the shortest routes beteen continents or to major islands, whereas for situations with several straits with some smaller islands as stepstone, passage of the largest reasonable strait would be chosen.
The number of seven challenges (in continents) is also not relevant for swimming.