Swimming: Irish man tackles Cook Strait

By Hana Garrett-Walker

An Irish man took just over 12 hours to swim Cook Strait - taking him one step closer to becoming the first person to complete seven of the toughest ocean swims in the world.

Steve Redmond, 46, is hoping to become the first person in the world to complete the Ocean's Seven Challenge, which covers seven of the toughest open water swims in the world.

After Friday's successful swim, Mr Redmond has now completed five of the seven swims - in 2009, the English Channel, in 2010 the North Channel in Ireland, in 2011 the Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco, the Catalina Channel in California, and on Friday Cook Strait.

The Ocean's Seven requires swimming in varying conditions; both very cold and warm seas, strong currents and stiff winds.

On Friday, Mr Redmond set off from the northeastern side of Arapawa Island in the Marlborough Sounds about 7am, arrived at Mana, 12 hours and 19 minutes later, but did not get into Wellington until about midnight because the support boat had to move slowly in the dark.

Support crew member Eoin Darby said Mr Redmond spent all yesterday sleeping, after the gruelling swim.

"The last 900 metres he said he was nearly going backwards, the current was so strong.

"He could see dry land, but the rip current was so strong it pushed them back, he was basically just going nowhere."

The Cook Strait swim was the most difficult of the five ocean swims, Mr Redmond told Mr Darby once he was back on dry land.

On his Facebook page, Mr Redmond said the weather went crazy after four hours into the swim.

"Just back in hotel having a nice chat with death who is standing next to and smiling we became close friends today. Without doubt the hardest swim so far weather just went crazy after 4 hours and spent two hours getting in 400 metres at the end the water was trying to kill me."

Mr Redmond averaged 52 strokes a minute while swimming the 26 kilometre stretch.

He now hoped to continue on to complete the Moloka'i Channel in Hawaii later this month and Tsugaru Strait in Japan in June.

- APNZ

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