Sean Murrays
Steve Redmond - Oceans7
Kampei Time, Baby! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 19 October 2012 11:11

Oceans Seven.resized

“Kampei Time, Baby!” – Tsugaru Channel by Steve Redmond

This is astonishing.  - Donal


Tsugarui Channel showing Tsugaru Current

Tsugarui Channel


Saturday 14/7/12 in Tapi Japan 4.00. I am going blind from checking the weather on my phone. Every one of the weather apps tell me today is going to flat calm with light north-westerly winds, hard to believe after the gales of winds we have had for the last two days. Yesterday was very sad as we said goodbye to our German film crew. Very very lonely here now, only Noel and myself. Jesus the pain of being defeated by this channel again is beyond words. I know people talk about the black depths but I am living them every long second.

5.30am all packed and ready to go home, we are getting the shuttle bus to Amouri at 8.20. Cannot believe that our chance is gone again, we have lost, I have let everyone down again after all the support and fundraising done on my behalf in Ballydehob and Skibbereen, we have been beaten, it weighs like a weight in my soul. God damn the Tsugarui any way, if it would give us half a chance we would get over the bloody thing. The doubts about my ability to swim it have been banished.

I take a call from a friend who tells me if there is any chance at all I should stay and wait. Her positivity is the spark. Thank you Gráinne.

I have a look out of the window. We are in room 313 on the third floor, you can only open the windows about 4 inches, just as well as I would have been gone out through the bugger. I am stunned by the scene that greets me, flat calm sea and a great sun, all the small boats out checking nets. What the bloody hell is going on????? I tell Noel, who is delighted to be woken at 5.00 am

Just the smallest glimmer of hope for a mad man far away from home is all I need.

I shoot down to the breakfast room to see if [the] one English-speaking hotel worker is working [and thank God he is. We have very little time, 7.30am leaving at 8.20 At least I know the skipper is up as in Tapi at 6.00 am. Everyone is greeted with what seems like the music from the ward scene from One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, at full volume blasting from speakers all over the village. This is Japan.

My translator Ryo says he will ring the skipper Captain Mizushima. I am eternally grateful to him and I stare out the windows of the main foyer in disbelief. Surely this is a chance to even swim it tomorrow. Let the swell from the last two days calm but it has to be a chance. He returns and tells me the skipper still does not think the weather is good but is coming up to see us. Another ray of hope . Here I must thank Mimako and Ian Crowley for their work. They were incredible to come all the way up from Asaka and break down the barriers and explain to the skipper and his wife how important this was to me and how it meant so much. Whatever Mimako said it really helped as we had a genuine bond and friendship that did not need any words.

The skipper arrived, a small hard little man weather-beaten by the winds of this merciless place. With Rye translating I stressed that we could stay a few more days. The skipper came back with the tides being too strong next week and some more bad weather rolling in.

Tsugarui must be the most unpredictable place for weather in the world and has driven many forecasters to the bottle, I should think. I ask one more time, does he think we have any chance on Sunday morning? And I explain that I do not mind swimming through the night. Once more a long interlude, with Ryo coming back with this " how long would it take us to be ready to swim today?" My ears are not sure I heard him correctly. "I can be ready by 10.00am". Holding my breadth I wait for the reply.

Holy God, the skipper says we leave the pier at 10.30 to swim at 12.00. Noel has a smile as if he won the lottery and never have I been so happy about trying to kill myself. This is Japan be prepared for the unexpected. This Channel is never swam like this. Normally the swim starts at 4.00am to give the swimmer the day's light to get across. Swimmers do not get this chance to swim through the night. I grab it and hold on like a drowning man. The skipper explains that he must ring the coastguard but he does not see a problem as they are not fishing where he sees me swimming to with the current and the tide. I am in such shock I retire to the bathroom. This is the truth and I start jumping like lunatic in the cubicle. This is our chance no one will take this from us now.

The hotel worker help fill bottles of water for us, supply bin bags and food for Ryo. I hope he knows this is no fun but there is no point telling him. He is such a great chap for offering to come, we could not have done it without him. Bathroom again. This is my future. In shock I eat the last three Weetabix and thank God that Ann my wife packed them and some Barry's tea. Noel is like a whirling Dervish, packing and looking out the window, another mad Irishman far from home, but with hope once more. We check and recheck the swim bag stores for Noel on the boat water and for feeds.

Start location outside Tappi Misaki

With this done we talk about the swim. Steve Munatones having been advising us all week we knew what had to be done. A true gentleman, Steve told me I needed to raise my stroke count and bring back kicking. Great, seeing as I have not done that for about three years. I am not a fast swimmer. Breathing every third stroke and bi-laterally, I can go on for ever. This swim would be very different and the biggest gamble of my swimming career.

Steven & Stephen

Another man I have to thank is Steve Black, my sometimes training partner in my training base at Lough Ine in Cork, Ireland for helping me with my stroke and speed work for this swim. I knew it would be different. I just did not know if I would be able to stroke at 60 per min or more and breath in twos and kick for the whole swim. My years as a kid in Lime Grove swimming baths in England and my triathlon racing stood to me.


It was agreed that I would go out hard for the first 4 hours to get into the Channel proper then see how I felt and revert back to my normal pace. I swear I would sooner die than not finish this bitch. It has dealt myself and my team so much pain over the last month that I was committed to paying it back twice over and swore to Noel that there would be no moaning or asking how far or any other bullshit. This would be perfect. These are the words of a smiling fool remember.

Bathroom again. Deep Heat sprayed on shoulders and legs, these being a worry. I cramped in my hamstrings on the previous 6 hour swim. To hell with it, no doubts. Sorry you all know the language was much more industrial than this, but you get the picture. The fumes nearly kill us both, great stuff. On the bed in the room stretching quads, hams and back, all worries but none today this would be perfect.

On with iPod, my usual Simple Minds’s WaterfrontWalk in Silence (Joy Division’s Atmosphere – Donal), Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus and Talking Heads Once in a Lifetime (turns out Steve & I have the same taste in music, a small thrill – Donal) remembering what my Kineseologist Dave Quinn had told me, that I was going to be effortless in the water and what my Sport Psychologist Maureen Duffy had said about how the water would welcome me and I would cut through it easily. Thinking of everyone at home brings tear but I vow not to break down till after this is over. They are all better people than I will ever be, they got us back here. This is the loneliness and the time of doubt before you get in the water. Remember we could go out and the weather could change and we would fail again.


Noel is a shining light. We have both waited and prayed for this chance as we load the car. The girls in the hotel wish us luck as we depart for the pier. The skipper is there already loaded. We slip away from Tapi and out to sea. Around the head and we are greeted with fine swells. I put this down to reefs around the rocks near the shore and I’m glad we have our motion sickness tablets down. We steam on towards the start prepping away. My major concerns flying around my head. Time to stop thinking and remember this is going to be the best swim of my life. Poor Ryo is seasick already, the poor bugger. This will be his longest day on Earth. It is not terribly rough but there is a rolling north-westerly swell.THANK YOU GOD for this chance.

We reach the start in flying time. Noel greases Me up. The Japanese and Irish tattoos will remind through the day why I am here and why I am doing this. Because I was told I had no chance, an amateur from Ballydehob in Ireland up against the best distance swimmers in the world. It was time to show the IRISH HEART.

Swimming into start point


Time to swim into the water after some prayers for strength and guidance from the people who have gone since I started this madness. Paddy,Bernard and Thomas swam every stroke with me in my heart. Into the rock to start. Good swell, pretty tricky to get in. Manage to hold onto the rock and Noel and the skipper give me the thumbs up. Great we are off. Into my stroke pattern of two and a breath. I must watch that I do not go off too hard and exhaust myself. Noel is straight on the ball after 15 minutes and give me the thumbs up that stroke rate is where he wants it. Great relief once again, thank you god. Now only another 15-16 hours to get through!!!

Irish & Japanese tattoos on Steve’s arm

The skipper takes up position right along side me and his swimming ribbons (pennant flags) are great as they kind of prepare me for the swells coming and I can time my breadth. I get my second wind, everything feels fine and I try to relax as I know my neck locking up is a danger, another one for the list of doubts. First feed goes fine, 12 seconds and thumbs up from them both and gone again. I feel good and strong. My mantra for this day was Thank you God. Every time I took on water or a swell threw me, I said that and got into the rhythm. Pretty rough going taking on a bit of water but I accept that no problem.
Our poor translator is green and on the ground at the back of the boat, Jesus help him, this is the sea. Onwards through the swell the feeds continue great with no problem. I get to thinking I am flying through the water if only it was true. I think of my kids Siadbh and Steve, watching the tracker and vow not to fail this time. Onwards using their names as a mantra to release my adrenaline nice and slow, and keep me focused which is the most important thing on this swim. Concentrating on every stroke. Worrying is my following arm not doing enough. It’s great having the skipper out next to me instead of in the wheelhouse. The long Japanese fishing boats have a controller so that the skipper can be out on deck, a great idea, as I build up a great respect for this man during the swim.
My sense of direction in the water is terrible as it is for most swimmers but I will not ask how far we are and how long I am in, no way not today. As darkness falls I think of my German friends and am truly sad they are not here for this, they have been through the worst this Channel can throw at some one and never ever doubted that I would make it.


That’s all there is to it. Noel is busy with phones, texts, stroke count and feeding, Jesus too much for one man.

I see lights in front of me I think, and fear that I am on the same course as my friend Darren Miller had taken on Tuesday and I’d be pushed down the shore. What a tough swim but he made it, so would I. Reasons for Divorce by Elbow keeps coming into my head and I sing away and thank God for my wife Ann who has supported me through all this. I cry away sometimes and break down more times but carry on these are the long seconds in the dark blue emptiness, the water grand and warm. The skipper is now giving me thumbs ups at the feed which is great. If he believes in me there is no stopping me.

Captain Mizushima

That’s it I suppose. No-one ever told me I was beat and no-one would ever give up on me. I think about Father Cahill in Kilcoe, Skibbereen and my aunt, a nun Brigid, two of the most amazing people whose faith is beyond words. I think about Linda Kaiser who never gave up on me in Hawaii and who I wept with after completing the Molokai Channel. I think of my Irish friends in New Zealand and Philip Rush who showed me so much about grinding out a swim to the end. Fred Mardle in the English channel smoking and talking away to me out the window of the wheelhouse through the night. Brian Meharg in the North Channel and his attention to detail and belief in me. Forrest Nelson and his team in LA and more sorrow that I will probably never see these people again but they are here tonight.

Everything goes green, everyone is from Ireland and the sea is in us all.

I know that everyone at home in Ballydehob and Castledermot, my parents, will worry. My father will go and feed the cattle to keep busy, my brother Anthony who has been through so many swims will be on tenterhooks. Nerves are terrible, the whole country will be watching the track of the swim. Incredible people all over the world who got me here. I am glad they can watch and see this as it’s theirs as much as mine. I always say we instead of I about swims and never has it been truer than tonight. THANK YOU ALL.

My stomach is getting a bit raw from all the gunk feeds and five-hour power gels, painkillers, water and still I must keep going, no idea what time it is, hard to get feeds down, but still going in a 2 stroke pattern. I really thought I would have to revert to my old bi-lateral stroke. I thought about asking Noel a few hours ago but I remembered the promise, no moaning, no stupid questions, no bloody stopping, not tonight. I feel the current behind me sometimes and it feels like it’s willing me across this cursed Channel. And so it goes.

After what seems like a lifetime I see Noel and the skipper checking the screen in the wheelhouse. Is something wrong??? Jesus no, it’s not conditions so I must be going off course. Oh no no no. I swim harder and keep kicking afraid to ask. At next feed Noel tells me every thing is fine. Just keep going. Right sir no bother. Hard 45 and just before feed I see skipper head up to the front of the boat and start fiddling around with the pole for the swim ribbon. Bloody hell he’s taking it out, are we being pulled? I can see light all along the shore, I must be getting nearer. I swim harder, forcing the skipper to throttle on.

Next feed is terrible, I cannot get it down, my stomach has had enough, take water instead. Inching on I do not ask about where I am or how things are going. This is my deprived state and this is what I asked for, get on with it.

Noel told me before the swim that he would swim in to the shore with me and record the finnish and make sure it was done correctly. Only problem with that is I spent hours willing the bugger to put on a swim cap and strip to get in knowing this would be the only way I would know I was going to finish the swim. I tell you I have never been as happy to see someone get ready to come in, the relief laughing under the water. Next feed down I roar to the skipper “It’s Kampei Time, Baby”. The broad smile tells me more than words can. Still a 750 metre swim and I enjoy every stroke. Noel with lights and a Go-Pro on his head looked like some mad deep-sea angler-fish but the cheering and joy relief and bloody tears kept me going.

Steve clambering out over rocks

At last the shore. Hard to get in, huge rock and swell. Japan does not make it easy, I tell you. Hard to get in, harder to get out. At last I clamber up, Noel following. We shake hands, hug and fucking laugh like two mad Irish men which is what we are. Payback, complete pictures taken for prosperity and a good look around where I landed.

Noel tells me we are right on the point where Steve Munatones finished, I thought we were nowhere near his place. Amazing thinking that this has been his idea, his challenge and we had done it. (Steve, any more ideas keep them to yourself please). Thanks for all your support this week, this may sound crazy but this is for IRELAND really, just to show the rest of the world that we should never be underestimated. I thank each and every one of you for your help and thank God that I come from Ireland, as I say finishing this swim connects so many people all over the world,thank you, thank you. Once again I am in uncontrollable tears. I fear this will be happening for quite sometime.

Thanks is not good not enough, never enough for Noel Brown’s friendship and faith on this swim, it is my honour to know him .Thanks to my skipper Captain Mizushima no question if you want to swim the Tsugarui Channel this is the man to get as your skipper. The man knows Tsugarui ! Thanks to Dave Williams for pushing this idea and convincing me that I could do it and his endless fundraising and support.

I am only the SWIMMER. All of you GOT ME THERE. Tears again. Now you get the picture. Thanks. Kindest regards.

Steve Redmond (NEVER GIVE UP)!!!!!!


Last Updated on Friday, 19 October 2012 11:13
Tsugaru Strait Swim Update PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 07 June 2012 13:17

Preparations for the Tsugaru Strait Swim are nearly complete, with Steve & his team planning to Leave for Japan on Saturday the 9th of June. The final swim date will be dependent on weather and water conditions, we will post more information when the time comes.

All Media Enquiries to Christine Duggan, DMpr - 087 9641729 /       This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

All other enquiries to Dave Williams - :086 8641575   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Keep an eye on for updates

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 June 2012 14:12
Channel Swimming in the Land of the Rising Sun PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 07 June 2012 13:08

An interesting Interview from the Daily News of Open Water Swimming, with Steve Munatones about swimming the Tsugaru Strait:


DailyNews: What interested you in swimming across the Tsugaru Channel(Tsugaru Kaikyo in Japanese)?

Munatones: My initial goal was swimming from the Russian island of Kunashiri to Hokkaido in Japan. I received the permission of the Russian government, with particularly strong support from Boris Yeltsin, but the swim encountered insurmountable political problems between the Japanese and Russian governments, so I decided to do theTsugaru KaikyoTsugaru Channel.

DailyNews: Where exactly is the Tsugaru Channel?

Munatones: Japan has four main islands. Tokyo Osaka and Kyoto are on the largest and main island of HonshuSapporo, site of the 1972 Winter Olympics, is located on the northernmost island of Hokkaido. Hokkaido is off the coast of eastern Russia. The Tsugaru Channel is the 20K strait at its narrowest point separating Hokkaido and Honshu. If you fly into Tokyo, you can take a bullet train (shinkansen in Japanese) for about five hours to get up to the north part of Honshu. The largest big city near the channel on the Honshu is Aomori and the largest big city near the channel on the Hokkaido side isHakodate. On most days, you can clearly see Hokkaido from Honshu and there are ferry boats that can people across the channel, but the water flows between the two islands is tremendous. You can take a risky course starting from the absolute narrowest point,Tappi Misaki, or a less risky course where you can ride on the currents starting from the westernmost coastline of Aomori.

DailyNews: What is that part of the world look like?

Munatones: Definitely nothing like Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto. It is a rugged coastline populated by rugged, friendly people who enjoy the outdoors in an area with an abundance of natural beauty. It is largely undeveloped area with a lot of picturesque fishing villages and small towns that subsist on harvesting seaweed (nori to sushi lovers) and squid. The prefecture on the Honshu side is called Aomori where some of the world’s most delicious apples are grown – huge, juicy apples. The winters are long and harsh up here. On the Hokkaido side, there are a few larger towns, but it is also largely undeveloped with shorelines of rocky, rugged beauty.

DailyNews: So it is not totally packed with people like in Tokyo?

Munatones: No, it is exactly the opposite. The small hamlets have relatively sparse populations. Although the locals largely do not speak English, they are quite warm and were extremely helpful to me. They were very hospitable and were happy to have a foreigner come and learn more about their area. I stayed in the area for three weeks waiting for the right day for my swim and lived in a small inn owned by a squid fisherman who was my lead escort boat pilot. We had squid for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I could not imagine how many ways his wife prepared squid. Before dawn, Maki-san would go out and fish in the waters of the Tsugaru Channel – as his father and his grandfather once did. He apparently knew every inch of that waterway. He let me go out and really taught me a lot about the channel, its particularities, its currents and its marine life.

DailyNews: How did you plan for the swim?

Munatones: Besides Maki-san, I worked with the engineers who had just finished building the Seikan Tunnel, the world's deepest and longest undersea tunnel under the Tsugaru Channel which had just opened. The Seikan Tunnel, which trains use to pass between the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido, is an engineering marvel like the Chunnel in the English Channel. I also talked and plotted with the divers who helped maintain the Seikan Tunnel. They were actually staying at Maki-san’s inn, too. They would often dive down to 200 meters to monitor the Tunnel and, therefore, knew a lot about the currents and water temperature. Every day, they would go out and tell me what the currents and conditions were like along my planned course. The local Japanese Coast Guard was also very helpful in providing me with loads of information.

DailyNews: Was it a tough swim?

Munatones: It was difficult primarily because so much was unknown about the Tsugaru Channel from a swimmer's perspective. However, a few weeks before I did my crossing,David Yudovin crossed the channel in 11 hours and 55 minutes, so I was confident it could be crossed. But since David became the first person to swim from Honshu to Hokkaido, I did a double-crossing which turned out to be my longest swim of my life.

DailyNews: How did you train for this swim?

Munatones: I trained very hard for this swim. I swam at least 12,000 meters per day in a pool five days per week and did at least one weekend open water practice per week between early March and late July. I also had a good background in long distance training since I had trained under Jim Montrella, a renowned coach of distance swimmers in the US, Ed Spencer and Penny Dean, the English Channel record holder at that time. I started training in Lake Biwa, near Kyoto, in early March even though I only lasted literally a few seconds in the cold water in the first few training sessions. But by April, I had built up to several minutes and my last open water swim before I headed up to the channel was 21 miles. I really had no idea how long my double-crossing would take, so I knew I had to be mentally and physically prepared to swim at least 24 hours, so I put in some serious training sessions.

DailyNews: Why did you swim so much in the pool for a channel swim?

Munatones: I knew I needed good speed to work my way across the currents in the channel. The Tsugaru Channel is known for its fast currents that flow between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean. In fact, many of the large oil tankers that travel from the Middle East to the west coast of America travel through the Tsugaru Channel to apparently take advantage of these currents. When the tankers travel through the channel they get the benefit of a tremendous push out to the Pacific. In order to cross these massive water flows in the time that I wanted, we calculated the necessary speed that I had to maintain. I had to maintain a 1:15 - 1:20 per 100 meters pace for the crossing. So I just did sets of between five and fifteen 1000-meter swims in the pool day after day after day.

DailyNews: Wasn't that boring?

Munatones: Yes, unbelievably boring - especially because I did it by myself. A friend gave me keys to his pool and I would go to the pool by myself and swim from 4 - 7 am before work. On the weekends, I very much looked forward to swimming in the lake and the ocean.

DailyNews: What kind of workouts did you do in the ocean and lake?

Munatones: Nothing special, I just worked on cold water acclimatization and building up to be able to swim for long distances. I worked my way from, literally, a few seconds in the first training sessions to six swims over 16 miles. In my last preparation swim, I swam for nearly 9 hours. I would swam parallel to the shoreline in relatively shallow waters and set a cooler of drinks and food on a fishing dock. Every 30-45 minutes, I swam over to the dock, grabbed my food or drinks and then continued on. Because these training swims were all done by myself, it was great mental training and helped me prepare emotionally for the swim. It was so easy to just get out. But on my last swim, I was so tired that I couldn’t get home. I ended up checking into a hotel that was near the dock and slept a long, hard sleep. But, after that swim, I was confident that I could go up to 24 hours if necessary.

DailyNews: Did you run into any problems?

Munatones: Not really, fortunately. I had a great crew and a main escort boat piloted by Maki-san, although other boats came around to watch or help. I was able to swim from Tappi Misaki on Honshu to southern coast of Hokkaido in 6 hours and 11 minutes on the way over. From Hokkaido back to Honshu, I took 6 hours and 41 minutes, so I was almost able to negative-split the swim. I started about 7 pm. On the way over, it was cloudy and therefore quite dark throughout the swim, but on the way back, the cloud cover moved and the moonlight shining on the channel created an eerie beauty that channel swimmers can always appreciate. I got a little scared in the very beginning when I took off from Honshu. The ocean swells were large and after about 100 meters, I couldn't see my escort boat. They were momentarily working on their boat lights and I didn't have a paddler or kayaker. In the middle of the night, I couldn't see the boat – I was scared to say the least. But they got the lights back on and my heart rate soon settled down.

DailyNews: Any other problems?

Munatones: I had to stop for an oil tanker and was just treading in the water which got me a little cold on the way back. The Japanese Coast Guard was monitoring my progress so I just eggbeatered in the ocean for several minutes. Finally, I just decided to swim in large circles around the escort boats to keep warm. But, Maki-san did a great job and he was rarely out of position. We had great feedings and our planned course was right on plan. There were several cameramen on the media boat and they all got sick in the large swells. Looking through a TV camera and going up and down in the swells had to be tough.

DailyNews: Who has also done this swim?

Munatones: David Yudovin did the first crossing a few weeks before me. He had to wait for five weeks for conditions to be right. Since then, several relays have crossed the channel as well as Miyuki Fujita, the Japanese English Channel Queen. One of the most amazing channel swimmers I know, James Pittar of Australia is also going to give it a try as part of his Oceans Seven Challenge.

With the expotential growth of open water swimming in Japan, I foresee a lot of people also attempting the channel either solo or with relays. I am sure one day someone will try another double-crossing and there may even be the triple-crossing a la Jon Erikson, Philip Rush and Alison Streeter in the English Channel.

As the world’s waterways continues to attract more and more swimmers looking for unique and interesting challenges of all types, Oceans Seven - including the Tsugaru Channel – will find more people making their way across.

Copyright © 2009 by Open Water Source

Redman Aquathon PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 26 March 2012 15:16

Online Entry is now open for the Fundraising Aquathon in aid of Steve's Oceans7 quest.

By The Active Network

This is the only AQUATHON run in Munster 2012 and it’s a Fundraising event for Stephen Redmond’s final Oceans7 swim. All proceeds of the event will go to supporting Stephen. Therefore this race will be run with a minimum budget. Goodies and prizes are only provided as per sponsors provisions as the focus of the event is to have fun and raise money for Stephen. All competitors need to either be a Triathlon Ireland Member or have a One Day License from Triathlon Ireland. Note that registration can be done on the day and One Day Licences also can be bought on the day. The cost for a One Day License is 5Euro. Registration and the FREE after event meal is at the Speckle Door pub.

Last Updated on Monday, 26 March 2012 15:23
Fundraising PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 17 February 2012 11:53

If anyone would like to help out with getting Steve to the final leg of the Ocean's 7 challenge in Japan please get in touch:


David Williams
Contact : + 353 86 864 1575
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



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Many Thanks to everyone at Skibbereen Tool Hire for all your support.