Oceans Seven

Andy Donaldson has smashed the Oceans Seven!

On 27 July 2023, marathon swimmer Andy Donaldson completed the final leg of his Oceans Seven, swimming the Tsugaru Strait (19.5km) in a time of 13h04m

Jellyfish stings, washing machine conditions, severe nausea – Scotsman Andy Donaldson has overcome it all to finish his Oceans Seven challenge, becoming the first person to complete all seven crossings in a year.

On 27 July the marathon swimmer completed the final leg of his Oceans Seven, swimming the Tsugaru Strait (19.5km) in a time of 13h04m.

The Tsugaru Strait separates the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido in northern Japan. Being a connection between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean, it experiences a high volume of water flow and is known for its challenging ‘Dragon Current,’ which Andy explained to be “akin to crossing a fast-flowing river, battling powerful east-flowing currents.”

Battling the Dragon

“Leading up to this swim, these past few days have been pretty eventful. The Tsugaru Strait has presented significant challenges this season, and there have been no successful crossings so far!” Andy explained on Instagram before his swim. “Swimmers have struggled in the powerful currents, and questions have been raised among the swimming community about Tsugaru and how swims are being conducted here.

“There’s been a lot of scrutiny and attention on this swim, and naturally it’s been having an impact on me. I’ll admit, I am feeling the pressure!”

On the day of his Tsugaru Strait swim, conditions were choppy and there were some powerful currents, but Andy battled through and completed the crossing with an impressive time of 13h04m.

“Well, we gave that one everything we had left,” Andy declared on his Instagram feed after the swim. “Very proud of our efforts and we couldn’t have given it any more.”

A global challenge

The Oceans Seven comprises the seven toughest and most iconic channel swims in the world. These total a distance of 200km and present unique challenges including strong tides, rough swells, extreme cold, jellyfish and sharks. To complete the challenge to Marathon Swimming Federation standards, swimmers must complete the swims without any equipment that benefits speed, buoyancy or heat retention.

Andy’s goal was to swim all seven channels within a year, which he has done with flying colours. He has become the first person to have ever achieved this.

With British records in the English Channel and North Channel, as well as a World Record for the Cook Strait swim, Donaldson has established himself as a formidable figure in the open water swimming world.

Supporting a great cause

Throughout his challenge, Andy has been raising money for the Black Dog Institute, a charity that pioneers mental health research. For Andy, mental health is an issue that’s close to his heart, having lost friends to suicide and experiencing his own struggles with his mental health.

“t’s a matter that doesn’t discriminate. Anybody can be affected by mental illness, and in many cases, people who are struggling won’t access treatment or help,” Andy told us in an interview earlier this year. “I wanted to support the Black Dog Institute because they are one of the world’s leaders in mental health research. Added to their education programs and support services, they are actively trying to better understand mental illness and how to both treat and prevent it.”

We offer our congratulations to Andy for smashing the Oceans Seven and doing it all in the name of mental health research. What an achievement!

Andy Donaldson’s Ocean Seven:

English Channel (England to France) – 33km Completed August 2022 *British Record*

North Channel (Ireland to Scotland) – 34km Completed September 2022 *British Record*

Cook Strait (North Island to South Island, New Zealand) – 22km Completed March 2023 *World Record*

Molokai Strait (Molokai to Oahu, Hawaii) – 44km Completed April 2023

Strait of Gibraltar (Spain to Morocco) – 14.4km Completed May 2023 *British Record*

Catalina Channel (Santa Catalina to Los Angeles) – 32km Completed July 2023 *British Record*

Tsugaru Strait (Honshu to Hokkaido, Japan) – 19.5km Completed July 2023

Read our interview with Andy about how he trained for the Oceans Seven.

To find out more about Andy’s Oceans Seven challenge, visit his fundraising page and follow Andy on Instagram.

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Abi writes swimming news stories and features for the Outdoor Swimmer website and manages the social media channels. She loves to swim, run, hike and SUP close to her home in Herefordshire. While she’s a keen wild swimmer, Abi is new to the world of open water events and recently completed her first open water mile. She has previously written for The Guardian, BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC History Magazine and Ernest Journal.