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Teruko Onuki, Long-time Voice Of Open Water In Japan

Courtesy of Uminchu Club, Tokyo, Japan.

Teruko Onuki has done a lot in her life in the open water.

The 56-year-old Tokyo native has kayaked 3,500 km down the Amazon River over 45 days. She has run a program for Morinaga Foods to help Japanese children become comfortable in the sea over the past two decades. She is a long-time FINA open water swimming official and delegate. She has served on the Japan Swimming Federation open water swimming committee since 2009, an important role since it is less than two years to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics 10 km marathon swim.

She has coached hundreds of Japanese swimmers at the 19.7 km Rottnest Channel in Western Australia, the 16 km Vietnam Cham Island relay crossing, and numerous domestic, holiday and international open water swimming training camps.

She has also written 10 books* on open water swimming, extreme sports and triathlon and has appeared as a television commentator on NHK-TV and other broadcasters and runs a nationwide virtual (online) and in-person open water swimming training camp and clinic program at the Uminchu Club.

Her activities in the open water world started as a competitive pool swimmer in Japan and later as a professional marathon swimmer competing in international events. She was the first Japanese to successfully cross the English Channel when she was a student at Waseda University in 1982 when she did a 9 hour 32 minute crossing without GPS or a techsuit (typical of her era) and followed it up with a second English Channel crossing the next year.

I first met Onuki-san in Lake Biwa near Kyoto when she was a commentator for NHK-TV in 1988 and have been continuously impressed by her,” recalled Steven Munatones. “She is so full of life, vivacious with a perpetual smile on her face. She is an adventurer and became the first known face of Japan in the international marathon swimming world. She burst on the scene in pro races and across the English Channel in 1982 at a time when Japanese open water swimmers did not venture much beyond their domestic shores.

Her competitive career shut down after her college graduation, but she continued to share her experiences and expertise with the Japanese population through numerous articles in newspapers and magazines, books, and television appearances. But most importantly, she shares her passion for open water swimming with children and older swimmers on a daily basis, always with a deep love and profound understanding of the sport.”

* Her books include:
テルちゃんののびのびスイミング : ドーバー海峡横断の大貫映子が教える水泳教室 (Teruko’s Carefree Swimming published in 1985)
ドーバー海峡泳いじゃった (I Swam The English Channel published in 1986)
ジョイフル・トライアスロン・マニュアル (Joyful Triathlon Manual published in 1988)
地球は広場だ!―アドベンチャースポーツの世界 (The Earth is a Plaza! The Adventure Sports World published in April 1988)
とびだせ!スポーツウーマン―新しいスポーツを開拓する (Sports Women Pioneering New Sports published in April 1988)
マラソンスイミング (Marathon Swimming published in November 1988)
オープンウォータースイミング (Open Water Swimming published in November 1988)
スポーツ批評 (Sports Criticisms published in 1990)
大貫映子のスイミング (Onuki Teruko Swimming published in 1992)
やっぱりスポーツが気にかかる! (Yappari supōtsu ga ki ni kakaru published in 1997).

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