Stephen Redmond’s own Cook Strait report & GPS – Widowmaker swim

(I accidentally sent out a brief version of this post yesterday to subscribers, sorry about that).

Some of you will have already seen Stephen’s own post-Cook swim report. He emailed me on Saturday night so I can put it up here. He titled it a “Widowmaker swim”. Stephen is not prone to exaggeration so for him to say this, well it’s a sign of extreme conditions. I’m leaving his report untouched, as you get a better feeling for his exhaustion and elation. His time was just under 13 hours.

He was on his way directly to Hawaii yesterday for the very slight chance he’s get a weather window, but the pilot wasn’t very optimistic. We all have our fingers crossed for him.

In yesterday’s (deleted) post I mentioned the horrendous cost (especially Tsugaru) for Stephen. I’ve asked one of the team if they can give me any details for an account or fundraising page that people who wish can contribute directly to. I’ll update as soon as I have anything.

The Philip Rush mentioned is a famous English Channel swimmer (single, two-way AND three-way), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, organiser and head of the Cook Strait Association.

From Stephen:

His old man
Just an update on the cook strait swim. Has been a great trip to new Zealand meeting incredible people once again
Coming to the other side of the world  I thought it would be very lonely as I traveled alone but the Irish in Wellington have been incredible and looked after me and helped all week Dermot in the D4 bar fed me all week and Roslyn Murphy and Marie came on the boat as support team. The positivity was overwhelming and the swim is more theirs then mine as I could not let them down.
  We got in on Friday after an aborted attempt on valentines day where we steamed out had a look and Philip rush the swim coordinator and head man makes the call he supply’s a five man team who’s only mission is to get you across very professional and all I have to worry about is the swim which is enough.
 The call came through on Thursday that we had a chance on Friday after 3
Days of gales I was delighted had been training all week in Wellington harbour and this was our only chance this week as tides would be gone and I was due to fly on Sunday 19 no pressure then.
 Friday was flat calm with sun shining as we steamed over to the south island to start swim  so could not be better was well prepped and rested after flight down  passing the brothers which are two rock near south island Philip gave me the ok to grease up stretch and get ready  it is so unpredictable here but until you are getting in the water  you do not believe its happening  on this swim Philip is right next to you for the whole swim   In a small rib and the larger boat lays off in support for any thing that you need . Finally into the water which was surprisingly cold I swam into the rocks  and the guys guide me to  a small beach I managed to stand up quick pictures and clocks started Ann’s away  huge relief to be swimming.
  First 4 hours was heaven screaming along in the water at 54 strokes per minute perfect conditions. Stomach fine feeds great smooth and quick good communication with Philip and following his directions was simple . We had tracker on for this trip so people could watch it live on their computer in the fifth hour  the northerly wind starting to come up sooner  then forecast this worked against the tide which was coming southerly to create 6-8 swells  and the wind kept me cold in the water even though sun was shining.  We swam on through say encountering only a couple of shark which I never seen but Philip and crew spotted they stayed for about an hour inquisitive I guess .  The weather continued to deteriorate through the afternoon the poor girls on the large boat being seasick but still updating everyone with texts and Facebook and recording my stroke rest throughout the day  great people.
  The tide was just trying to kill me we had to cross over it so when it changed we  could use it to bring us in god was testing us to the limit for long
Periods it felt as if I was not moving at all but stroking harder then ever prayers and mantras were used over and over  never looking forward just at Philip breathing every six strokes due to the swells now tough stuff no point moaning this is what i wanted this is
My swim do I give up and spend the rest of my time in regret no. Just cannot happen . We are sweet around the point by tide and miss landing. Ending up in another bay where god seemed to be moving furniture Jesus it was rough darkness fell lights on mask and trunks we carried on wishing to get out  every time I stopped in despair I lost 50 metres cruel water Philip explains that I only have 1 k to. Do I can make out buildings on shore where a electric power line runs comes ashore from south island so close now close I keep telling my self  Philip fucks me out of my doubts and keeps me going as I am exausted and close to death. It take3 hours just to swim 1.5 k
In the end and when I touch rock there was no joy i just cursed that piece of rock and grabbed hold of it  swim done I had to get back to rub which was being covered in waves guys soaked and freezing from the day incredible people who got me over the cook straits I clamber he’d first into bottom of the boat telling the to get the f—k out of there  back to main boat in shock now pucking and hypothermic after swim they clean lanolin of as best as can be done and get  me dressed  as quick as possible  huge joy and relief all round I had been very lucky Philip explains that they had never had a swim finish I such  rough conditions  down on the floor of the boat for the steam back safest place to start recovering dry retching and puking acid all the way back everyone in high spirits how could I have let these people down truly a team effort very rough slow steam against 24 knot northerly wind .
At last we come into are berth o be meat by over 100 irish people draped in Tri colours who had waited hours for us I was overcome and in tears at this  these guys are are loss but new zealand s gain and it is great to know they are here as the Irish never give up adapt overcome and succeed  . Huge community  help and involvement back home with no one sleeping in Ballydehob and castledermot  all of this I used to get over  thanks to everyone for prayers and  belief .
Post swim badly badly burnt on backs of legs and face shoulders good freeing up getting ready to fly to Hawaii tomorrow very tired  but delighted to be alive told death to get lost in the end we
I have no word for how great the people and new zealand has been to me I am humbled. By it all thank you all I can never repay the debt I owe
Kind regards Steve redmond
Hope this is not too
Crazy sir


7 thoughts on “Stephen Redmond’s own Cook Strait report & GPS – Widowmaker swim

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  5. Go Steve! i’m not sure of the exact time that Redmond started in Hawaii. I ain’t Irish, but here’s wishing you all the best from Oregon!


  6. Best swim report EVER !!! I was up watching your SPOT until marker 39, when I figured you had pounded the last nail. My hat is off to you sir (and your crew)! I hope to have the honor of shaking your hand some day. (donal, prime choice to not edit!)


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