PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In the little-known world of Global Open Water Swimming, a race is on to see who can be the first to finish all 7 legs of the Ocean’s 7.
The group of bodies of water is made up of the English Channel, Catalina Channel, Molokai Channel, Tsugaru Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Cook Strait and North Channel.
There are 11 swimmers from around the world within reach of completing the task and one of them hails from Pittsburgh.
Darren Miller, a former member of the Murrysville Swim Club, has raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity while swimming around the world.
On any given night, you can find Miller swimming the lake at Keystone State Park, for hours during spring and summer and winter too.
“Training for cold water is pretty much the most painful thing you could ever experience,” Miller says. “I’ve done a lot of physical activity in my life and there is nothing worse than putting yourself into 30 or 40 degree water here in January.”
So why does he do it? In order to get his body ready to swim in places like the icy waters of the English Channel, one of seven swims that make up the Ocean’s 7 and the first that Miller completed in 12 hours and four minutes.
Twelve hours broken up only by 20 second breaks every half hour.
“Hypothermia is the biggest challenge in cold water swims,” Miller says.
Miller followed that up with the Catalina Channel, the Molokai Channel in Hawaii and just this year, the Strait of Gibraltar, dodging boats, barges and almost dodging giant jellyfish.
“Right off the island of Molakai,” Miller tells us, “about an hour in, it was still dark out and I took a Portuguese manowar sting right to the face.”
So why does he do it? Certainly not for the notoriety.
“I’m not doing this to get my name in the paper,”Miller says though he already has many times. “I’m not worried about that. I’ve found that I have a talent to be able push myself far distances. To be thrown into the middle of the ocean swimming with who knows what’s below you. And in the name of charity that’s what we’re here for.”
Miller helped create the Forever Fund to help families of patients at Children’s Hospital and has raised tens of thousands of dollars. If you would like to help, go to www.darren-miller.com.