Six years after he first swam the English Channel, British swim coach Adam Walker has successfully completed the final leg of his epic challenge to swim the world’s seven hardest oceans, crossing the North Channel from Northern Ireland to Scotland earlier this week.
Speaking to 220 earlier today, Adam, said he’s now feeling very sore and has suffered a few sleepless nights as his body readjusts. “It was supposed to be really windy and rough, I knew I had to put my head down and go fast, and it quickly picked up. The currents were a bit tough, but that’s the nature of the sport. Conditions are a major factor, you either decide you’re going or you don’t. I tend to go if I get a 50/50 chance, and if the ocean gods are in your favour then great. You have to take what you’re given, you have to go through it.”
During his journey across the world Adam has been stung by a Portuguese man-of-war off the coast of Hawaii, swum with wild dolphins crossing the Cook Strait in New Zealand and been chased by tiger sharks more than once. “My biggest low was the Hawaiian swim where the pilot said three navigation systems were down and we were a bit lost at sea, so I spent three hours going backwards, then sideways, then I got stung by the man-of-war, then right at the end I got chased by a tiger shark when my anti-shark sonar unit ran out of battery.
“But it turned into a massive high when I was standing on the beach after I’d gone through it all, saying to myself repeatedly, ‘Pain only lasts a minute, success lasts a lifetime’. I knew then no other swim was going to be as bad as that, I was in so much physical pain. The stings are like third degree burns, I pulled two tentacles off my stomach, I lost feeling in my spine.”
Adam says that the standout moment for him was being followed by wild dolphins in New Zealand – and realising that they seemed to be keeping a large shark away from him. “Nothing will top having the dolphins swimming around me with the shark below, especially as the charity I’ve been raising money for is conservation charity Swim4Whales. When I went for a drink from the boat these wild dolphins were bobbing up by me, waiting for me to get going again, and it really felt like they were there to protect me.”
Now that he’s become the first person to swim seven oceans on his first attempt, Adam is focussing on helping other people – and particularly triathletes – learn to love open-water swimming. He offers bespoke swim coaching for triathletes and clubs and will be attending next year’s 220Triathlon Show, taking place at Sandown Park in Surrey, where he’ll be doing some stroke demonstrations and coaching sessions.
“I feel at home in open water, I feel more comfortable in the water then on land,” he adds. “That comes with experience, the more you do it the more comfortable you get, but you’re in the ocean so you have to battle the temperature, the marine life, whatever’s in the water, and you have to focus mentally and that can be tough for some people.”
(Images: Jim Ryder)
We’ll soon be running a series of open-water tutorials with Adam right here on 220triathlon.com – watch this space!