Oundle dad becomes 19th person in history to complete gruelling global swim challenge

An Oundle dad has become just the 19th person in history to complete a gruelling swimming challenge that has taken him to the ends of the earth.

Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 12:16 pm

Jonathan Ratcliffe (46) reached the shores of New Zealand’s South Island on Monday, the final leg of the Ocean 7 challenge.

The “Oceans Seven” is a marathon challenge of seven open water channel swims; North Channel, between England and Ireland, the Cook Strait, which separates the North and South Island of New Zealand, The Molokai Channel in Hawaii, the English Channel, The Catalina Channel in Calafornia, the Tsugaru Strait in Japan, and the Strait of Gibraltar.

Jonathan is the 19th person ever to complete all seven swims - and just the second Brit.

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Jonathan during his swim

Speaking to The Peterborough Telegraph from New Zealand, he said battling currents and tidal pulls had been a huge challenge.

He said: “After waiting for seven days in Wellington for a swim window before my tidal slot expired on December 10, we finally set off in big swell from the most southerly tip of the North Island, heading across the Cook Strait to the most northerly tip of the South Island.

“The water temperature was about 16 degrees, with varying plumes of cold water rising from the bottom of the see cooling patches to 13-14 degrees or so.

“The swim length was 44km, and 11 hours and 15 minutes as we had to combat a large tidal pull being so late in our weather window.

Jonathan

“The swim settled down after four hours, with rolling seas abating for a while until nearing the finish as the tide turned and we had to crab against wind and waves to hold our heading in order to try and make land before dusk.

“Mine was the first crossing of the Cook Strait this season, and this completed my Oceans 7 Challenge, becoming the 19th person and second Brit ever to do it.

“I felt great throughout, not feeling too much from the cold water at all.

“It was only eight hour in, with about three to go that reading the tides became a challenge and the race to beet the notorious whirlpools and currents on this stretch of water began.

“From there is was a bit of a gruelling battle to make land under the steep cliffs of the South Island of New Zealand in sloppy and challenging seas.”

Throughout the challenge, Jonathan has been raising money for charity Crops, who provide mentors for pupils in Peterborough schools.

He is a trustee of the charity, and said: “I have a real passion for Peterborough, and I think the difference mentors can make is huge. I really believe for kids between 12 and 15, there is a lot of untapped potential, and this project can help.”