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Tsugaru Channel swim: the EPIC video

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. I shall just say that 2018 has been an EPIC year for me. And hopefully I’ll get around to writing about some various highlight at some point before the year end.

But for the past 8 months of the year, I was swimming. A lot. I achieved a bucketlist item of swimming Tsugaru Channel (that body of water between Honshu and Hokkaido) and one of the Oceans Seven swims. I swam it as part of an international 3-person relay with two friends (also expats in Tokyo). And for the record, I’ve been trying to do this swim for the past 2-3 years and was never chosen for a slot. But at the end of 2017, I was finally notified of a last-minute slot for 2018 (I think due to someone else cancelling).

It was quite the journey in terms of training and build-up and the actual swim itself. Will eventually write an epic swim report, but for now, I will leave you with the EPIC video documenting our channel swim which we did on 19-20 July 2018. The film was shot and edited by my amazingly talented friend (and crew support on the swim) Matt.

For your viewing pleasure: (and yes, we really did this!)

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Flying over El Nido: aerial views

I went to El Nido in June for a swim race. The Philippines is my recent hot spot destination for open water swim races. Flying from Tokyo, I stayed a brief night in Manila before flying onwards the next day to El Nido airport. It’s great that AirSwift has direct flights straight to El Nido airport rather than flying into Puerto Princessa.

The aerial views towards and over the El Nido islands was pretty spectacular. Enjoying a window seat, I was in prime position. And as we flew into the airport, I also got a great aerial view of the actual swim course as well.

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The swim course – you can see the colour flag pontoons.

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Hong Kong high tea at Mandarin Oriental

So many high teas which I have yet to blog about. This one dates back to May 2015. I was on a business trip to Hong Kong and managed to catch up with a friend over there and squeeze in a high tea.

There’s no shortage of high teas in Hong Kong, but I finally settled on the Mandarin Oriental Hotel as it was in a convenient location.

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There’s nothing like a relaxing afternoon of tea and food.

Sadly, the afternoon tea wasn’t particularly amazing, but it sufficed.

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10km Caramoan open water swim race

This summer in August, I completed a 10km open water swim race. The location was remote but amazing. Set amongst the Caramoan islands – a location popular for filming Survivor (the reality TV show) around the world including a US series.

The race was a 10km island hopping swim. My first 10km in open water.

I finished. An official time of 4 hours and 16 minutes which was slower than I would have liked. A great swim though. Couldn’t have picked a better location to do this epic swim.

There’ll be more to write about on this later but here are some pics from the personal milestone and one of many more racecations.

Coming up onto the shore with a smile.

IMG_1252 Feels weird to be vertical: IMG_1251

IMG_1247 Action finishing shots: IMG_1245

IMG_1241 Feeling chuffed to have finished: IMG_1261

The Caramoan 10km swim challenge

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I got second place female in my age group which I thought was pretty decent. Didn’t think my time was very decent but compared to the field, it wasn’t too bad.

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I hit the proverbial wall at 8km. The first 3km I did an an hour, and I thought I was on track for a 3.5 hour finish. That time lapsed and I aimed for a sub-four time. 4 hours passed and by then, it was just a matter of getting to the finish line. The last 2km took me over an hour. 8-10km was brutal with very little left in the tank. I hadn’t ever swum more than 8km in the open water before, so it was a first and a great personal achievement to even finish a 10km open water swim. Would like to get a few more under my belt.

Dolphin swimming in Japan

Another opportunity to swim with wild dolphins, this time I got to go on as crew.

It’s pretty amazing to be able to swim with wild dolphins. It didn’t get off to a great start but in the end, we saw a lot. I got in one particular awesome jump.

At one point, we got so close to them, it was pretty incredible.

Coming straight for me:

From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016

A cool shot as they swam underneath me:

From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016

These dolphins were particularly playful and stuck around for a while.

From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016

There were about 5-7 dolphins in this shot:

From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016

And on a separate jump, we saw a mother and a baby dolphin, but they didn’t stick around to play.

From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016

Seeing dolphins from the boat:

From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016
From Dolphins June 2016

Oiso 10km swim race – the motion video

You’re in for a treat. So normally, I would write a swim race report, but this time I have a real video for your viewing pleasure.

Last Saturday, I did a 10km swim race. In a pool. 20 laps of a 500m pool. Same race that I did 2 years. You might recall the <a href=”http://memoirsofaleisha.blog.com/2014/07/01/my-first-10km-swim-race-oiso-10km-swim-race/”>race report.</a>

The only difference since is that I’ve gotten older and slower. I managed a time that was about 40min slower than last time. Ugh.

The housemate finished before me so was able to get some footage of me. Mind you, the footage was taken at around the 8km and 9km mark, so I was literally ready to die. Body really struggled and it wasn’t pretty. But don’t take my word for it.

You can view it for yourself:

Niijima Open water swim (ows) again

Another belated swim race report from last year.
Race date: July 2015
Venue: Niijima island

You might recall that I did this race back in 2011. Back then it was the longest distance open water swim race I had done before. Since then I’ve done a few 5km, an 8km and a 10km race. I’ve pretty much gotten to a point where I usually don’t like to enter in swim races less than 4km. Am trying to do more endurance swims, but I’m still pretty slow.

Last year, we got a small posse to come to Niijima island for the swim race again. In addition, a small group of Aussies from the Brighton Icebergs also came to Japan to do this swim and I got to meet up with some them.

The Niijima swim once again involved getting an early jetboat ride from Tokyo to the island. Perhaps too early for some.
Here is everyone passed out or perhaps they are just conserving their energy.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

Here we are wide awake!

From Niijima OWS 2015

We had rented a van for the six of us to make the most of weekend.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

Again we were blessed with another beautiful hot sunny day. And the water conditions were good.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

A beautiful day for a swim. And the water so clean and blue.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

I like this particular race. It’s always well organised and entry fee includes refreshments and a free towel for every finisher.
The bananas this year even had messages of motivation which was a really cute touch.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

Gaijin swimmers represent!

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

The race has a great atmosphere.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

And yes, this is why we swim:

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

A cool close up of a grasshopper:

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

I did the 4.5km distance and my time was super slow. 1 hour, 49minutes. The last time I did this swim, I did it 1hr, 36min. I was 13 minutes slower.
Last year was not a great swimming year for me. In 2014, I ramped up my training to do some endurance swim races so last year I significantly cut back on swimming. This year, I am trying to ramp up again with my eyes on a couple of marathon races.

I’ve signed up for 4.5km swim race again this year on Niijima island and I’m hoping to improve on last year’s time. But I feel I’m getting slower as I get older.

Snowboarding weekend in Hakuba

I have a massive backlog of blog posts. I didn’t snowboard much this past winter. Only managed to get out a few weekend. But here is a post from Winter 2015 (March last year) of a snowboarding trip to Hakuba.

Just photos. No words.

From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba
From Hakuba

Break time:

From Hakuba
From Hakuba

Enjoying an apres drink:

From Hakuba

Katsuura open water swim

So, last year I didn’t get around to posting up any open water swim reports. But I did do about 5 or so races last year. Here is a belated account of the first open water swim race from last year.

Race date: 21 June, 2015.
The event was the Katsuura swim festa and the race was held at Moriya beach in Chiba. I had actually been to this beach before on a day trip where we SUPed and snorkeled.

From Katsuura OWS 2015

Race distance was a short one and I went with a couple of friends. We did the 1.5km swim (which was the longest distance on offer). Water was a cooler side, I think about 21 degrees. It was a bit fresh without a wetsuit.

Here are a bunch of pics from the day:

From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015

Conditions were decent enough:

From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015

Race course:

From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015

This was a slow swim for me. I’m not 100% sure, given that it was nearly a year ago, but I think my time was a shameful 45minutes for a 1.5km swim. Can’t be sure that is right though but it was the first race for the year and a cold one at that.

From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015

Overall a nice easy race doable from Tokyo. But yes, was a bit a cold and I was a bit out of practice. It’s always good to do a short distance swim to start off the season.

2015 Onjuku open water swim

Another year, another Onjuku swim. This one is tradition on the racing calendar with a decent enough following with fellow swimming friends. We had a small contingent of us turn up for this race, back in September last year.

It’s a 3.84km swim at Onjuku beach, one of the better beaches around and a favourite in the summer. Had also swum in the previous year.

It was a nice day for a swim with a good atmosphere:

From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows

Water conditions weren’t great. There was lots of seaweed upon entry.

I have also spent quite a fair bit of time at Onjuku, and what was surprising this year was the amount of jellyfish out there. I was a bit worried and thought about pulling out when they had warned us of jellyfish. I thought I’d at least start the race.

Holy moly, I have never seen jellyfish this big. These were really big ugly jellyfish that were the size of soccerballs. It really was quite phenomenal. I, of course, got stung on the hand by a big one, but decided to still swim on. It was a bit of a tough race trying to dodge all the jellyfish. I always find the Onjuku course quite tough. It requires swimming into the ports at each of the beach.

My time was on the slow side and it was slower than last year as well. For 3.84km, my time was 1hr 31min. But ok considering I was stung badly on the wrist and had to actively dodge jellyfish for the rest of the race. Had never seen jellyfish so big and so ugly. They were nomura jellyfish.You should google them. Ugly things. I ended up getting quite a bad reaction from the water here and ended up with a rash. Last year was particularly bad for my swimming rashes. I get really bad allergic reactions.

Another funny thing about this swim was that both The housemate and I featured on the race promo poster! It was an action photo from the previous year’s race that was used for the 2015 event.
I’m the one that is basically stacking it in the water, yes, ever the clutz am I. We were able to score a few of these posters as well.

From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows

Will most likely enter this race again this year too.