ONE WOMAN. ONE YEAR. ONE EPIC CHALLENGE
‘Ocean Seven’ are seven long-distance open-water swims across the world’s most dangerous sea channels. For ultra-swimmers it’s the absolute pinnacle- the equivalent to climbing the seven summits. Only six people have ever completed the challenge. In October 2016, one woman set out on a historic race to swim all 7 channels in a single year.
This feature-length documentary, directed by BAFTA & EMMY-nominated filmmaking team Nick Read and Stefan Stuckert, is the story of Beth French and her battle against all the odds to complete all seven crossings in a single year. Not only is she battling the distance; the extreme conditions; the constant threat from marine life, but she is also fighting against a debilitating illness (M.E. aka Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) which left her in a wheelchair for many years. Oceans 7, the film, follows Beth’s journey and draws a portrait of, not only an adventurer but also a mother and a human being.
The seven channels which make up the Oceans 7 challenge are:
Catalina Channel (USA – 21 miles) | Strong winds, fierce currents and large marine life can all be expected in this channel
Molokai Channel (Hawaii – 28 miles) | The longest crossing of them all. The water is warm but the currents are heavy and there are sharks in these waters
Cook Strait (New Zealand – 16 miles) | Exceptionally rough seas and cold water. The Maori believe that dolphins protect swimmers from sharks
Strait of Gibraltar (Spain and Morocco – 8 miles) | The shortest crossing but unpredictable weather conditions and busy shipping lanes
Tsugaru Strait (Japan – 12 miles) | A deep water channel with extraordinarily strong currents and marine life
North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland – 21 miles) | Extremely rough seas, unpredictable weather conditions and cold water. Jellyfish plague this crossing
English Channel (Great Britain and France – 22 miles) | One of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, this crossing is tough. Cold waters and strong currents add to the challenge
Since she was a child, Beth has always had a connection with the water. Swimming has been a refuge for her, a way to escape. Like a lot of people, the vastness of the open seas attracts beth to their shores. However, as a teenager, Beth suffered from a mysterious debilitating condition that affected her nervous and immune system which left her confined to a wheelchair for long periods of time. After years of suffering and countless tests, the illness was eventually diagnosed as M.E. (Myalgic encephalomyelitis), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
“I felt that my body had completely failed me and I might as well be dead.”
Beth learned about an ancient massage technique in Hawaii, and whilst training as a Buddhist nun in a Thai monastery she discovered deep meditation to alleviate the symptoms from M.E. But long-distance swimming is the one constant that has helped Beth through.
As well as being an endurance athlete, Beth is also a single mother to her nine-year-old son, Dylan. Beth hopes that by undertaking this monster challenge, she’ll show Dylan that he can overcome his own limitations (he has a sensory processing disorder) and that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
Support the film
The team behind Oceans 7 have financed and completed all the location-based filming, but need to raise additional funds to shoot the final shots. These final shots are crucial to tie the whole story together. An underwater studio, underwater film crew and a team of editors aren’t cheap though and the team need to raise £20k to complete the film. For every pledge, large or small, there is a reward. What’s more, 5% of contributions will be donated to Action for M.E.
If you’d like to support the film and ‘Action for M.E.’, visit the Livetree page and make a pledge.
A few of the sponsors that are supporting Oceans 7: