Swimming five miles is no small feat, especially in the ocean. But how about lugging a 45-pound rock across the ocean floor for five miles? Now that’s a challenge—and a new record set by U.S. military veterans Don Tran and Kaj Larson. The duo completed the epic task—dubbed the Waimea Rock Run because it took place in Oahu’s Waimea Bay—to raise awareness for Force Blue Team, an organization that helps Special Operations vets get involved with marine conservation efforts. For Larson, a former Navy SEAL, and Tran, a former Marine Raider, the run put their military training to the test, and required plenty of intense prep work (more on that in the video above). Dealing with the changing conditions of the ocean made an already daunting task even more challenging.
“Once we get out there,” Larson says in the video, “we have a whole host of other factors we have to deal with: wind, waves, currents, cold, sharks.”
Once they arrived at Waimea Bay, Tran, Larson and their team set up a simple course—just a rope held down in the sand—under 12 feet of water. The local lifeguards picked out a hefty 45-pound stone for them to carry, and they got to work ferrying it back and forth. They utilized a “freediving buddy system” and took turns carrying the stone. Although they had spent plenty of time training in the pool, they quickly discovered working in the ocean is a very different ball game.
“In the pool, there’s no current to rip you back and forth,” explains Tran, “but here you’re always constantly correcting yourself.”
At the two-hour mark, it became clear that they were in for a very long day.
“It’s way harder than I thought,” says Larson.
But they pressed on, and after six hours and 28 minutes, they finally completed their task—and set a new record in the process.
The attempt was sponsored by activewear company Ten Thousand as part of its Feats of Strength series, where athletes are attempting to break a new world record every month in 2021. Although it’s just one part of the series, Tran and Larson’s attempt was really something special.
“Their extensive military training, of course, played a huge role in their ability to remain calm in the face of the near impossible,” says Ten Thousand founder and CEO Keith Nowak. “That said, no matter who you are, a five mile underwater rock carry is downright superhuman.”
Check out the video above for an inside look at how they trained for—and completed—this incredible new record.
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