Swimming Tsugaru Strait: Abhejali achieves her 4th 'Oceans Seven'
By Vasanti Niemz
Saturday, 13 August, 2016
almost there - Abhejali swimming Tsugaru Strait
on the boat before the start
swimming into the dawn
ideal and actual route
successful and happy
Prayers, focus, visualisation and serious preparation nicely worked together! After the strong wind conditions caused by a typhoon blew out any chances for swimmers only few days earlier, Abhejali Bernardova (39) of our Czech Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team had almost perfect conditions for her attempt to cross the Tsugaru Channel between Honshu and Hokkaido in northern Japan, which is about 19.5 km wide at its narrowest point.
In the early morning of Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, at 3.30 am, shortly before sunrise, the accomplished English Channel swimmer and "Triple Crowner" (EC, Manhattan Island and Catalina Channel) stepped into the unusually warm (23°C) waters of the strait on the shores of Tappi Misaki, taking advantage of the calm after the storm, to tackle the 30km distance. As you can see on the map, Tappi Misaki is not the closest point to the other shore, but experience shows it is one of the best points to start a swim factoring in the currents constantly pushing from the west through the straits.
Expertly guided by captain Mizushima of the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association, who uses a white underwater "streamer" to help the swimmer stay on course, and supported by a great team with observer Mika Tokairin from Tokyo, sister Jana Bernadova from London, sister`s fiancé Tiago, and good friends Uddyogini Hall from Australia and Harashita of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team Japan, Abhejali experienced one of the calmest swim days of the year. Her helpers texted: "There were only tiny waves and almost no wind. In the middle she was visibly slowed down by the strong current passing through the strait, but she managed to stay west of the perfect line, which was ideal to avoid any tricky currents at the end." She had a perfect finish at the foot of the lighthouse in a time of 11 hours 07 min 58 sec. According to the captain, only some 3 swimmers or so have managed to land right at the lighthouse before.
Abhejali is the first Czech swimmer to successfully cross the Tsugaru Channel. Having completed 4 Oceans Seven solo swims now (the "classic way" without wetsuit!) - English Channel (2011), Gibraltar Strait (2013), Catalina Channel (2015) and Tsugaru Strait (2016) - she is already planning her next big swim adventure. Abhejali is inspired on the one hand by the challenge of the "Oceans Seven" launched by Open Water visionary Steven Munatones, as well as by the philosophy of self-transcendence of her late meditation-teacher Sri Chinmoy, founder of the international Sri Chinmoy Marathon team, who is known for his pioneering inner approach to athletic endurance feats in running, swimming and beyond.
In our self-transcendence
Is our tremendous joy."