A Rich Concept: The Ancient Seven Seas

Courtesy of David Rich and Lewis Pugh, Olympic Club, San Francisco, California.

What started as a one-on-one dinner conversation at the WOWSA Open Water Summit at the Olympic Club in San Francisco last year gradually perculated and formulated its way to a new marathon swimming challenge called The Ancient Seven Seas.

The Ancient Seven Seas are a series of seven marathon swims for solo swimmers of at least 10 km in distance in the Mediterranean Sea, Adriatic Sea, Aegean Sea, Black Sea, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and North Sea.

David Rich recalls the original conversation, “I sat next to Lewis Pugh at the WOWSA Awards dinner last year at the Olympic Club. He shared many of the wonderful things that he is working on including his Seven Swims in the Seven Seas for 1 Reason. It was an inspiration. This challenge could be seen as a way to build bridges with other cultures and interact around a common love of the oceans and swimming.”

Pugh responded, “The Ancient Seven Seas is [a] manageable [feat]. Moreover, it takes one to the cradle of civilization, to wonderful places – Greece, Turkey, Oman, Jordan, etc.

I think the more we go to these parts of the world, the more we interact with people with different backgrounds, cultures, religions and views – the better. We all have one thing in common – we love the oceans and swimming. It helps build bridges in a divided world.”

Rich developed the Ancient Seven Seas based on Pugh’s achievement completed between August 9th and 29th 2014 when he swam 10 km in the Mediterranean Sea in Monte Carlo, Monaco in 3 hours 33 minutes, 10 km in the Adriatic Sea in Zadar, Croatia in 3 hours 55 minutes, 10 km in the Aegean Sea in Athens, Greece in 3 hours 12 minutes, 10 km in the Black Sea in Istanbul, Turkey in 2 hours 48 minutes, 10 km in the Red Sea in Aqaba, Jordan in 2 hours 57 minutes, 10 km in the Arabian Sea in Rass Al Hadd, Oman in 3 hours 15 minutes, and a 60 km triple stage swim in the North Sea ending in London, United Kingdom over 3 tides.

He explains further, “The idea is to create a new goal called the ‘The Ancient Seven Seas” to differentiate from the Oceans Seven. The concept of the ‘Seven Seas‘ has a long history and depending on which lens one looks at it through, either culture or time in history, the names of those seas have varied.

Like Lewis’ swims, the Ancient Seven Seas requires minimally a 10 km swim – though one could do more. Ratified swims need tracking to prove the distance was done and could be ratified as not all of them would be to be shore-to-shore or point-to-point swims like the Oceans Seven.

I’ve been interested in doing open water swims as much for the adventure as for the accomplishment. The Ancient Seven Seas addresses this motivation. It takes one to many parts of the world and promotes our sport, as well as hopefully the inclusion of swimmers in those areas.

The Ancient Seven Seas, at a minimum distance of 10k would appeal to a broad segment of swimmers who want the adventure and challenge, but at a marathon distance and not at ultra-distance swims over 20 miles. I think there is a place in our sport for this.

While I have done ultra distances (20 Bridges Swim, International Self-Transcendence Marathon-Schwimmen) and a number of swims between 10-12 miles like Anacapa Channel, Maui Channel Swim, Lake Tahoe, Bonifacio Strait), I enjoy the 10-15 km distance. These are serious, but obtainable, goals with one’s busy life where jobs, family, kids, other commitments come into play.

I believe many others fall into this cohort of swimmers.

I also love the fact that Lewis did his Seven Seas to bring awareness to the need for ocean conservation and marine protected areas as he always does. We will see how an element of ocean conservation can be incorporated into this challenge to carry on that legacy.”

Ratification Requirements
* The swims must be solo and unassisted (i.e., without aid to warmth, buoyancy or forward propulsion), although assisted swims (i.e., swum with wetsuits, snorkels, fins) can also be recognized
* Straight-line tangent distance must be a minimum of 10 km
* Swim must be tracked via GPS in order to prove the minimum distance is completed
* The courses do not need to be shore-to-shore or point-to-point

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