Swimmer Steve faces final stretch of ocean challenge

Giant squid, stinging jellyfish and sharks — not to mention 15ft high swells — are among the challenges facing swimmer Steve Redmond when he attempts the final phase of his gruelling Ocean’s Seven Challenge in Japan next week.

If successful he won’t just be the first Irish man to do it — Steve will be the first swimmer ever to complete the challenge, which has been described as the marine equivalent of the Seven Summits mountain-climbing challenge.

It’ll be like trying to climb Mount Everest naked — that’s how the West Cork man describes this final leg of the formidable competition which has brought him all over the world in the last three years and which now sees him attempt the risky Tsugaru Channel.

“You have six currents flowing at any one time — hot and cold water coming together so it’s like swimming through a thunderstorm.

“There are schools of giant squid which stretch for up to half a mile in length, which peck at you, and there are stinging jellyfish and sharks,” says the father-of-two from Ballydehob who flies out to Japan on Saturday.

“On top of that there are huge swells — anything up to 15ft in height,” he said, adding he will need to swim 17 miles over a period of up to 15 hours to complete the challenge.

“It’s a brutal place, out of every nine swimmers who have attempted this swim, only one tends to make it. I’d compare it to trying to climb Mount Everest naked — you’re completely open to the elements, it’s very rough and you have no protection again the weather. The water is expected to be quite cold.”

In February of this year, Steve successfully swam the Cooke Strait in New Zealand and the Molokai Channel in Hawaii. In 2011 he triumphed over the Strait of Gibraltar, in 2010 it was the North Channel between Scotland and Ireland, and in 2009 he completed his first challenge — the English Channel.

This time he’s being followed by a film crew, and his attempt will be tracked on the Ocean’s Seven web page.

He paid tribute to his sponsors and to communities in West Cork who had been fully behind him all the way.

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