Forrest Nelson has had two very experiences in the Tsugaru Channel.

Earlier this year in May, the multi-channel American swimmer (English, Catalina, Molokai Channel, Cook, Anacapa, Palilolo, San Clemente) faced brutally harsh conditions (winds and currents in 12°C water). Swimming together with Michelle Macy in the lumpy bumpy sea, neither of them finished. They returned home (Macy to Oregon and Nelson to California) and made additional plans.

But the president of the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation did emerge with a newly found respect for the technically challenging Tsugaru Channel between the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan.

Taking off from Kodomari Peninsula on Honshu just before 6 am, Nelson had to deal with significantly warmer 82°F (27°C) waters on his August swim compared with his May attempt. Swimming at an angle from the western peninsula of Honshu towards the Shirakami Cape on Hokkaido, Nelson sliced across the channel nicely, coming across schools of flying fish and yellow fin tuna. The light breezes were not running against the prevailing current so whitecaps were nothing to be found. But his Captain Suto still had to steer him into Shirakami with precision as the eddies whipping around the point are notoriously difficult to handle.

9 hours 26 minutes on his second attempt, Nelson climbed upon the shores of Hokkaido. “I have a different respect for this channel after being here twice. My pilot, Captain Suto, was great, and our translator Mikiko Yanagida were great. We learned a lot after our first attempt in May and I think the pilots and swimmers will continue to learn more about this channel and how to get across it for people of all speeds.”

Chart above shows the warming waters of the Tsugaru Channel in September (up to 30°C).

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