Bray Heads behind us and I'm about to get my baptism of cold water ocean swimming in the Irish Sea with Oceans 7 swim legend Ion Lazarenco Tiron.
He's the stuff of Legends. I was in awe with a Legend. In November 2018 I found myself in Dublin, Ireland. I was following the All Blacks on their Northern Spring Tour with a test match in Aviva Stadium. That was the catalyst for my presence in the fine city of Dublin in the Spring. That also meant I was in the same city as Ion whom I met earlier in the year in Auckland, New Zealand. He was there to swim Cook Strait, the final swim of his Oceans 7. There are 7 swims in Oceans 7: North Channel (Ireland to Scotland), Cook Strait (NZ), Molokai Channel in Hawai'i, Catalina Channel (USA), Tsugaru Strait in Japan, English Channel and the Strait of Gibraltar (Europe to Africa). This is the pinnacle of Ocean swimming. Ion was the 8th person to have completed all seven swims, and the only person to complete all seven in the first attempt.
So you can imagine stars in my eyes as I spent a couple of days with Ion and his wife Angela. I traveled to Bray where they live, Ion met me and he showed me the amazing sights and landscape of these parts of Eire. Then on my final day I asked Ion to take me for a swim in his local waters in the Irish Sea. It gets cold in these parts in November and here I was about to swim my first ocean swim in Europe.
We went down to the beach in Bray, Wicklow near where I was staying at the fine Esplanade Hotel. It was a blustery morning with grey skies and early signs of a cold winter ahead. It will be the coldest swim of my life. The water was a chilly 10 deg Celsius and I was shivering. I had to borrow swimming togs from Ion, a swim cap, and goggles. I simply had to have a swim so I could brag for the rest of my life that I swam the Irish Sea in the winter and with a swim legend by my side.
Ion was first in the water. This was normal conditions for him. Four of the seven swims are in cold like conditions in Bray that November morning. I decided not to dilly dally around but to get right in. I walked into the surf and dived in. The immense cold water emptied my body of all the air in my frame. It was cold, and we were only in togs. I immediately took a second dive and started to swim. It felt like my arms had fallen from my torso. They were numb, arms and legs, all four of them. I kept on, and flailed like a bird in a sea of cold oil. I was simply frozen but I kept on. Then the equilibrium of temperature kicked in, my skin was now the same temperature as the water or at least it felt that way. There was an odd sensation about it too - a warmth of sorts now that my body has accepted the fact I was staying in the water for more than an instant. I decided then that I needed to swim for 20 minutes to make it count. I did that, darting here and there as Ion exited the water to take photos of my brave exploit. He was encouraging and I felt like a hardened hero of sorts. I was swimming in the Irish Sea at the start of winter, and a Legend was observing my adventure.
I will do it again.
Ion Lazarenco Tiron's Oceans 7 Swims
Strait of Gibraltar - Europe to Africa (4 hours 41 minutes)
English Channel (13 hours 34 minutes)
North Channel - Ireland to Scotland (16 hours 23 minutes)
Catalina Channel, USA (12 hours 1 minute)
Molokai Channel, Hawai'i (18 hours 11 minutes)
Tsugaru Channel, Japan (11 hours 20 minutes)
Cook Strait, NZ (11 hours 5 minutes).
SAMOA EVENTS / JAN / 2019
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