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The Tsugaru Current Runs Strong Unpredictably

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The notorious Tsugaru Current turned its back on yet another accomplished marathon swimmer this late evening in northern Japan.

Brad McVetta, a Triple Crown swimmer with successful swims across the English Channel and the Catalina Channel, and around Manhattan Island, struggled across the calm 19.5 km Tsugaru Channel for 17 hours 13 minutes. The fluctuation of the water temperature in the channel also did not help matters. The water varied between 15ºC (59ºF) at the start on his swim on Aomori Prefecture to 20ºC (68ºF) in mid-channel, and then back down to 15ºC as McVetta was approaching Hokkaido.

The Tsugaru Current whips around the southern edges of Hokkaido and kicks up some large, unpredictable eddies that draw up the colder water from the depths to the surface. It is a double punch that has taken down more than one tough channel swimmer. With the sun setting, McVetta could not make any progress against the Current that was not about to let up, so he retired with 8 km to go.

Photo courtesy of Masayuki Moriya of Ocean-navi.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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