Two weeks ago the West Cork father-of-two had to abandon two courageous attempts to swim around 25 miles through the formidable Tsuguru Strait notorious for its rough weather, heavy seas, stinging jelly fish and sharks.
The challenge, if completed, would have seen Steve become the first person in the world to complete the Oceans 7 Swim Challenge.
“The weather was terrible. It was very cold and very rough,” he said, adding that the water temperature, which he expected to reach 16 degrees, had only been about 10 degrees In all, the Ballydehob man made three separate attempts to negotiate this difficult stretch of water during his trip to Northern Japan in June.
“It was horrific. I was literally fighting the current all the time — I was in one spot for two and a half hours, swimming very hard and I didn’t move at all. There was an easterly wind against us the whole time. The swim was brutal. The power of the sea was frightening.”
Undeterred by the experience, however, Steve has been back training in Lough Hyne and in the swimming pool of Bantry’s West Lodge Hotel in preparation for another attempt — he flies out to Japan on Friday and expects to swim between July 10 and 15.
He has hired a different team for this second attempt: “The skipper I am going with this time swam the channel himself. He uses a different system and we will be taking a different route — this time we’re going from the South Island.
“On top of that the weather has steadied. Hopefully I will have a better chance. I’m very determined. I feel that if I’d had any break in the weather at all the last time, I’d have done it. The thought of going back into it again is terrifying, but I want to do it.”
He must move quickly however — Australian swimmer Penny Palfrey has also completed six of the seven swims, while two other hopefuls have successfully completed five of the seven challenges in the Oceans Seven.
“I need to move fast if I am to be the first person to finish the challenge. It was awful to have to come out of the water without completing the swim in Japan,” Steve said.
“I’m totally determined to complete it. I cannot give up — I don’t want to let people down. I think it’s the fear of failure that’s driving me at this stage.”