Meet Claire Patchan and Christine Applefield. Two twins that have decided to take on the most challenging series of open water swims in the world - the Oceans7. This is a series of the seven most dangerous open water swims ranging from 9 to 26 miles in distance.
The challenge was devised in 2008 as the swimming equivalent of the Seven Summits mountaineering challenge and includes:
The North Channel, Ireland (21 miles).
The Cook Strait, New Zealand (16 miles).
The Moloka’i Channel, Hawaii (26 miles).
The English Channel, England to France (21 miles).
The Catalina Channel, California (21 miles).
The Tsugaru Strait, Japan (15 miles).
The Strait of Gibraltar, Spain to Marocco (9 miles).
There is no time limit for completing these swims, but as of now, only 19 swimmers have ever completed the challenge since Stephen Redmond was the first to complete it in 2012. Should Claire and Christine succeed they will be the first twins ever to complete the challenge.
Along the way, the twins will have to face harsh currents, extreme cold, busy shipping lanes, and dangerous sea life. When asked what some of their biggest challenges will be, Claire says: “We have read so many articles and watched videos of other athletes that have done these swims and they have crazy stories about how many times they’ve been stung by jellyfish, Portuguese man-of-war and how they have been stalked by sharks”.
Both Christine and Claire have been surrounded by water their entire lives. They started swimming at around 8 years old, had a competitive career of about 14 years and they both swam all the way through college - Claire even made it to the US open water national team.
Christine explains how their relationship with the water has now changed: “The majority of our training and focus is now on open water swimming vs. pool swimming. Just a couple of years ago I got into triathlon and it reinvigorated my interest in open water swimming".
Sometimes a single dream can develop into so much more, which becomes clear when Claire remembers how they came up with the challenge: “It came by pretty organically. We have always said that we wanted to do the English Channel together. We started looking into that almost two years ago, just throwing it around and seeing what the logistics would be when suddenly the Oceans7 popped up and we said to each other 'why not?'".
"We are very competitive people and although I wouldn’t say we like to ‘one-up’ each other, we like to push each other and see what our limits and boundaries are", Christine says.
PRESERVING THE OCEANS FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
The twins live in Tampa Bay, Florida, a place that played a big part in developing their love for the water.
"There are oceans surrounding the entire state of Florida and we grew up at the beach, at the lake, in rivers, and in the channel. Ocean conservation is really important to us. We not only want to keep our home clean but the environment for everyone else to enjoy. We are doing the Oceans7 challenge to raise awareness for ocean conservation efforts and to get people involved in the various avenues to do that," Claire says.
The thought of future generations not being able to enjoy the water the same way as we are today is a very sad thought.
Christine is mindful of a pretty staggering statistic: “in 50 years, there will be more pieces of plastic in the ocean than there will be fish - that is simply unacceptable. Waste can be recycled, it has another purpose rather than ending up in a landfill or floating out in the water to then become consumed by sea life, damaging habitat and ultimately cause major climate issues”.
While Christine and Claire will document their challenges during the Oceans7 and their efforts to clean the oceans along the way, there is also a unique opportunity for local Floridians to get involved.
“We are organizing beach clean-ups in our area, we have a bunch of local organizations that want to get involved and we hope to do consistent ocean clean-ups and get people educated on why it is so important,” Claire says.
When asked what their big goals are in regards to ocean conservation, Christine says: “Ultimately I think that our big goals are to facilitate beach cleanups, remove as much waste as we can when we see it, and then to be part of a reform process where information and knowledge are being shared amongst people before they decide to pollute.
MORE WAYS TO HELP
The twins estimate that it will take 2,5 to 3 years to complete the 7 swims. The challenge will be a tremendous physical and financial undertaking. Both agreeing that any form of financial support will be met with insurmountable gratitude.
They are seeking help through their GoFundMe campaign to assist with the travel costs, guide boats, channel association application fees, and safety planning needed for each swim.
They both agree that "the swims themselves may be an individual effort, but every other piece of this puzzle will come together through teamwork and support; without which, there will be no success”.
If you cannot help financially, there might be other ways to assist if interested. “We also need help training, so if any locals (or not) are reading this and want to come train with us, come! We want to train with you!”, Christine says and continues: “Here in Florida we are spoiled with really warm water, so we want to get in contact with people that live in colder environments - people who can share information on how to approach cold water swims and stay warm for long periods of time”.
HOW TO CONNECT
If you are reading this and have knowledge that can be helpful, please drop a comment below.
To connect directly with Claire and Christine, simply reach out to them via Instagram @twinsswimoceans7.
At THEMAGIC5, we are proud to be part of their journey and will check in soon to share more details about the challenges facing the two twins as well as the heavy amount of planning required to undertake such an adventure.
Photos by Edna Goldberg Studio 39 Creative
Thank you for the feedback! We have had a ton of fun training and sharing our story. We will be planning several training trips in preparation for the swims, and would love to train with anyone who would like to join!
The link to the GoFundMe page is: https://www.gofundme.com/f/twinsswimoceans7
Thank you so much for the support!
You ladies are doing a wonderful action for our world and we are sending good Vibes from Brazil.
@Sue Casaway, Happy that you find their story so cool and will be following the updates. The GoFundMe page is linked in text (clickable) but I will add it here in plain text as well: https://www.gofundme.com/f/twinsswimoceans7
If you are able to help that would of course mean a lot. Keep the positive spirit!
Way to go sisters. I will follow along and cheer you from Philadelphia. I will support you too!
This is so cool!! I’ll be watching you both. Just wish we were closer to an ocean for you to join our open water swim group in Arizona- BadAss CoolKids Sunday Funday group! We have lakes, but sadly no oceans. Wishing you all the luck and good health to complete your goals x7!! Post your GoFundMe link please! Triathlon clubs will help you!
Stellar effort you guys! I’m in. Looking forward to your stories…
I am interested in helping with any beach clean ups!
Awesome Ladies……..Looking forward to following your journey!
Suggest exploring Wim Hof breathing technique for adapting body to cold water. Dutch super athlete
You ladies rock . So proud of you both . Way to go ladies ♥️♥️♥️