Man vs Ocean – Adam Walker


I (Manda) can’t remember when I first heard about the ‘Ocean’s Seven‘ challenge but I remember meeting my first Ocean Seven’r in NYC as we had none other than Darren Miller as our observer for our Manhattan swim in 2012. Darren told us stories about his swims and it inspired me but scared me in equal measure.

Adam Walker first appeared in mainstream media thanks to his dolphin encounter in the Cook Strait (Clip of Adam swimming with Dolphins) but is well known in the open water world. He is the first British guy to complete the Ocean’s Seven so I was excited to hear that he had written a book about his swimming exploits as here at Team Mermaids we love a good sports read.

I thought I was going to have a lovely time reading the book on maternity leave before my baby arrived but moving when you are 38 weeks pregnant (not recommended) meant that didn’t happen and I was only about 20 pages in when my son arrived.

After he arrived I admitted defeat, downloaded kindle for my phone and I started reading again in those rare quiet moments with a new born.

The book is great and clearly describes the challenges Adam faced on each swim. No swim was the same and each presented a unique story and challenge, which is why they are part of the Ocean’s Seven.

“Achieving the Oceans Seven requires an ability to swim in both very cold and very warm seas. It also demands the swimmer is physically and mentally prepared to overcome every condition known to defeat open water swimmers, from strong currents to stiff winds. Like its mountaineering cousin, the Oceans Seven requires a tremendous amount of planning, time, financial resources and multi-national support teams of knowledgeable local experts. “

The challenges faced on the swims ranged from currents, tides, jet lag, jellies (not just the little stingers we had in Majorca but the deadly Portuguese man o war and lions mane!), water temperature, self doubt and Sh**ks.  One of these things would be enough to make you give up and go home but Adam faced multiples of these on each of the swims.

The seven swims are:

  • English Channel

The world’s most famous channel crossing with nearly 1,000 successful swimmers to date, but thousands of failed attempts due to strong currents and tidal flows, strong winds and whitecaps caused by changing conditions and hypothermia.

  • Gibraltar Straits (Adam did 2 way)

Its boundaries were known in antiquity as the Pillars of Herculesand its currents remain of Herculean strength. Combined with theunpredictability of the water and high winds, only 185 successful one-waycrossings and 7 double-crossings have been made to date

  • North channel

Considered to be the most difficult channel swim in the world with the water temperature 54ºF (12ºC), normally overcast days, and tremendous difficulty in accurately predicting weather and water conditions. Swimmers face large pods of jellyfish if conditions are calm.

  • Cook strait

1 in 6 swimmers encounter sharks on their crossings. Sharks only come around to be nosey. No one has ever been attacked during a swim.Both sides of the strait have rock cliffs. Swimmers must overcome cold water(14ºC-19ºC or 57ºC-66ºF) over 26 kilometers in heavy chop.

  • Molokai Channel

Extremely large rolling swells, strong winds and tropical heat and very warm salty water offset the incredibly beautiful views of the Hawaiian Islands and deep-blue underwater scenery.

  • Catalina Channel

A deep-water channel that is comparable to the English Channel in terms of water conditions, difficulty, distance and the physical and mental challenges to the swimmer, although the water temperature is a bit warmer(mid-60°F water). Marine life are seen on occasion, including migratingwhales and large pods of dolphins.

  • Tsugaru Strait

An international waterway, 19.5K (12 miles) at its narrowest point. Swimmers must cross an extremely strong current between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean, large swells and abundant marine life ranging from sharks to deadly sea snakes. English and other western languages are not spoken in area. Water can be between 62-68ºF (16-20ºC)

Overall the book is an entertaining easy read for everyone. Even if you aren’t an open water swimmer you will still be enthralled by his tales and potentially inspired to do your own as was Adam by the movie that gave him the original idea to swim the channel ‘on a clear day’. Team Mermaids movie night anyone?

Ps I still won’t be doing Catalina!


*Text in italics from:

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