Powerful currents, icy water and stinging jellyfish are just a few hazards that Stephen Junk the open-water swimmer may face when he pursues to become the very 1st Australian to complete the Oceans 7 this year.
The Ocean seven involves 7 open water, long-distance swims, which can be comparable to climbing 7 of the highest of the mountain peaks in the Seven Summits. To date only 6 people across the globe have managed to complete this extremely grueling circuit. In the last 12 years, Stephen Junk has finished in 6th position for these long-distance swims.
At the age of 56, he has placed his vision on this final feat, which is the notorious North Channel that runs between Scotland and Ireland, in the late part of August or the early part of September.
Obtaining Inspiration In The South-West WA
Stephen Junk’s very first Oceans Seven swim involved the Strait of Gibraltar that runs between Europe and Africa in the year 2005. He stated that “I thought it was a bit of fun to go from one continent to another.”
In 2008, Junk conquered the Catalina Channel based in Southern California and in 2010 the Cook Strait located between the North and South Islands in New Zealand. He then gave up swimming for a while and moved from Perth to Denmark. He went onto purchase a vineyard and made plans to retire from his then career as an Embryologist.
After swimming in the Greens Pool in the year 2012, it gave him the inspiration to add more to his list of accomplishments. In 2016, he went onto complete the English Channel that runs between England and France, and then the Molokai Channel that runs between the O’ahu and Molokai islands situated in Hawaii and then the Tsugara Channel between the Honshu and Hokkaido islands in Japan all within 6 weeks of one another. In the same year he was awarded with the Triple Crown for open-water swimming.
The WOWSA (World Open Water Swimming Association) awards this particular title to individuals who complete the Catalina Channel, Manhattan Island Marathon and English Channel swim.
The Hardest Of Them All
Junk will soon be attempting the North Channel, which is recognized as the toughest of the channel swims in the world. He has stated that he is ready to take on the 12-degree Celsius icy water, battle the powerful currents, while dodging the giant Lion’s Mane jellyfish. This species of jellyfish are the largest in the world and derived their name “mane” after the 1,200 tentacles which can grow up to an astounding 30 meters in length.
Junk states that “There’s a lot of things that are hard about this swim but that’s part of why you do it- to try and tackle it.” This will be his 2nd attempt at the North Channel after he abandoned the previous year’s effort. He states that “I got six-and –a-half hours into the swim, about two thirds of the way across, and unfortunately I got very cold.”
He goes onto state “I was going hypothermic, hallucinating… and I thought, this is time to get out. It’s one thing to enjoy a swim but you don’t want to die doing it.”
His Unwavering Mindset
Stephen Junk swims at least 5 kilometres each day at the Greens Pool. Clocking up to 35 kilometres each week, which is the approximate distance he will swim in the North Channel, he states that this has been the easiest portion in his preparations for this extremely intimidating task.
He has since put on 8 kilograms and is trying to gain an additional 10 kilograms to attempt to stop hypothermia the next time around. He states that you need a sufficient amount of body fat in order to withstand such icy water. He also states that a mindset that is unwavering is vital in order to succeed. He states that “The mental preparation is all about trying to convince yourself that you can do this.”
He also mentions that the amount of stress placed on the body, results in your body telling you “Get out, get out, get out.” He says that if a swimmer is able to go past 6 to 7 hours of swimming in this water, the chances of getting through the remainder of the swim is much higher.
The Feeling Of Freedom
Stephen states that his dreams will really come true if he is able to become the 1st Australian to finish the Oceans Seven. He states “I would feel very honoured to be a part of that group of swimmers, it’s something which I never thought that I would be able to do.”
He goes onto the state that he supposes that it sounds somewhat crazy, but salt water, the open water and the freshness of this swim, helps him to feel incredibly free out there. He states that it would be fantastic to achieve this goal and then finally hang up his goggles and bathers.