Madhusudan Nagaraja successfully crossed the English Channel on 10 August 2004 in 12:31 at age 33. It was pouring rain in Dover when he started. The weather continued to be cloudy and rainy for the first six hours and he made slow progress, but then the weather improved. Despite pain in his right shoulder, he kept going. He was pleasantly surprised when he got out on the sandy beach of Cap Griz-Nez to be welcomed by some friendly French people.
Madhu was born in Mysore, India. He earned a national sports merit scholarship for swimming for graduate studies at Mysore University and won the University swimming championship. Combining other sports with swimming, particularly tennis, he won the best athlete award of the university. After few years after obtaining a master’s degree in Biochemistry, he moved to Palo Alto, California to study Information Technology. He joined the South End Rowing Club, swam in San Francisco Bay with other accomplished marathon swimmers and started training for the English Channel.
Madhu moved to Oakville, Ontario, shortly after swimming the English Channel. It didn't take long before he set his sights on a crossing of Lake Ontario. However, some shoulder issues forced him to rethink his plans and he took the rehabilitation time to complete some running marathons and in 2010 the famed six-day ultra-marathon "Marathon des Sables" in the Moroccan desert.
So it wasn't until 2012, at age 41, that Madhu got his team together for his 41.3 km Lake Ontario crossing from Port Dalhousie to Oakville. At the 21:08:11 hours start at Port Dalhousie, the weather was fine, but . . . within two hours it deteriorated and presented him with a tough 12 knot headwind for the next 11 hours. After a further two hours the wind had reversed; so for the final 10 hours of the swim Madhu had a tailwind of 12 knots. Shoreline northerly lake currents posed some problems; however, Madhu was determined to land at Coronation Park where a large crowd had gathered. So he persisted against the currents and landed at 21:34:14 hours on July 29, to complete the swim from in a time of 24:26:03, which gave him the male record for this course and provided him with entry into the 24-hour club. Madhu's Lake Ontario crossing and the contribution of the many members of his Team were well-captured in a wonderful 2019 YouTube video
The Straits of Magellan
Madhu says he likes to pick swims that are scary. This, and his friendship with Lynne Cox, the first person to do this swim, motivated him to swim the Magellan Straits.
The Strait, which is 3.9 km wide at its narrowest, lies at the southern tip of South America, separating the mainland from Tierra del Fuego archipelago. Nagaraja first attempted to swim the Strait in 2015, but was pulled out after two hours in the water due to the cold temperature (4 degrees C). On 29 November 2017, the forecast did not look good with very high winds. Fortunately, there was a small window where the winds were down to 26 knots and the waves 2 meters. “It was 100 percent a mental swim for me,” he said. He succeeded, in 1hr 19 minutes.
“Being the first Indian and first Canadian is a really great feeling. But what it also means is that if I can do it, anyone who wants to can do it.”
Nagaraja is the co-founder, along with fellow marathon swimmer Loren King, of the Great Lakes Trust, an organization which helps to protect and clean up the Great Lakes. Madhu is the founder and organizer of Great Lakes Open Water Swimming (GLOW) in Oakville, which is a group of open water swimmers. Madhu has also served on the Board of SSO.
Here is a link to a more comprehensive write-up on Madhu's background and achievements.