The race to become the first to achieve the Oceans Seven is heating up…from different perspectives:

Man vs. Woman.

A former world-class swimmer vs. a former rugby player.

Speed vs. Acclimatization.

Ireland vs. Australia vs. USA.

While Ireland’s Stephen Redmond remains in the driver’s seat in the Oceans Seven, Australia’s Penny Palfrey and Americans Michelle Macy and Darren Miller remain close in his wake.

Both Redmon and Palfrey face issues on their final stage of the Oceans Seven. For Redmond, the Tsugaru Channel requires more speed than endurance…and Redmond has much more of the latter than the former. Meanwhile Palfrey faces the bitterly cold North Channel while she trains in very warm water conditions in Queensland, Australia while she recuperates from her recent 40-hour attempt from Cuba to Florida.

While the former world-class swimmer from Australia preps her 21-mile swim between Ireland and Scotland next month, Redmond is getting ready to pull out all the stops on his fourth attempt across the Tsugaru Channel this weekend. Palfrey needs to readjust herself physiologically and psychologically for a cold-water swim and jellyfish, but Redmond may have the bigger challenge ahead of him: getting faster.

Redmond will need to do the swim of his life. He needs to maintain a faster pace than he has ever had to do during his career. His plan is to breathe more frequently which may allow him to turnover his arms quicker. If possible, he may also throw in a kick which is usually not not part of his propulsion package. “I am going to breathe every twos, not threes like I usually do,” said the former Irish rugby player whose inner intensity is wrapped in a gentlemanly veneer. “It is going to hurt. Hurt a lot, but I have to get this [Tsugaru Channel] done. I have no choice.”

In the wake of the Irish and Australian marathon swimmers, a pair of Americans lurks in the background ready to capture the title if things do not go to plan for Redmond and Palfrey.

Macy, an employee at Nike in Oregon, has already attempted the remaining two channels – the Tsugaru and North – but her early-season attempts were thwarted by 10°C (50°F) water. She has both swims scheduled again and is most definitely the favored dark horse in the Oceans Seven. As the Tsugaru Channel has heated up significantly over the last month, Macy has the required speed to get across so her chances look very good in completing her sixth channel swim. The North Channel is always a bear, but with temperatures closer to 13°C (55°F) now, smart money is betting that she completes the Oceans Seven this year.

Meanwhile private banker Miller has an outside shot to be the first to achieve the Oceans Seven with a Cook Strait attempt scheduled for early next year and a North Channel attempt for August. The former pool sprinter has planned his approach with a keen precision of a Swiss watchmaker. “I need some time to acclimate to the water temperatures of the North Channel, so before I begin my Ph.D. studies, I will go up there and train to prepare.”

The race is on…but the biggest challenge remains Mother Nature. The top athletes include:

1. Stephen Redmond (Ireland): English Channel, North Channel, Catalina Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Cook Strait: 6 with 1 to go (scheduled to cross the Tsugaru Channel on 14 July 2012).
1. Penny Palfrey (Australia): English Channel (2 times), Strait of Gibraltar, Catalina Channel, Cook Strait, Molokai Channel, Tsugaru Channel: 6 with 1 to go (scheduled to cross the North Channel in August 2012).
3. Michelle Macy (USA): English Channel, Catalina Channel, Molokai Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Cook Strait, Strait of Gibraltar: 5 with 2 to go (Tsugaru Channel and North Channel both scheduled for summer 2012).
3. Darren Miller (USA): English Channel, Catalina Channel, Molokai Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Tsugaru Channel: 5 with 2 to go (Cook Strait for March 2013 and the North Channel for August 2013).
4. James Pittar (Australia): English Channel, Catalina Channel, Cook Strait and Strait of Gibraltar: 4 with 3 to go (remaining schedule unannounced).
4. Kevin Murphy (England): English Channel (34 times), Catalina Channel, North Channel (two times) and Strait of Gibraltar: 4 with 3 to go (remaining schedule unannounced).
4. Forrest Nelson (USA): English Channel, Catalina Channel (both ways and two-way), Molokai Channel (both ways) and Cook Strait: 4 with 3 to go (remaining schedule unannounced).
4. Bula Chowdhury Chakraborty (India): English Channel (twice), Catalina Channel, Cook Strait and Strait of Gibraltar: 4 with 3 to go (remaining schedule unannounced).
4. Tom Hecker (USA): English Channel, Catalina Channel, Cook Strait and Strait of Gibraltar: 4 with 3 to go (remaining schedule unannounced).
4. Pieter Christian Jongeneel Anderica (Spain): English Channel, Catalina Channel, Cook Strait and Strait of Gibraltar: 4 with 3 to go (Molokai Channel scheduled for 2012).
4. T. Scott Coleman (USA): English Channel, Catalina Channel, Cook Strait and Strait of Gibraltar: 4 with 3 to go (remaining schedule unannounced).
4. Anna-Carin Nordin (Sweden): Molokai Channel, English Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Catalina Channel: 4 with 3 to go (Tsugaru Channel scheduled for September 2012, North Channel scheduled for 2012 and Cook Strait scheduled for 2014).
13. Michael Miller (USA): Molokai Channel, English Channel, Catalina Channel: 3 with 4 more to go (remaining schedule unannounced).
13. Adam Walker (UK): English Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Molokai Channel: 3 with 4 to go (remaining schedule unannounced).

Photo by Ocean Navi shows Darren Miller in the Tsugaru Channel.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source