Chris Hill is a renowned graphic designer. A few years ago, I first met him in Houston to design my book, The Forever Swim. At the end of our meeting, Chris showed me a beautiful coin. “Check this out,” he said. “When I became a member of the exclusive private club in San Francisco, I designed this coin. To show my appreciation and respect, I presented it to a select group of club members that supported me through the membership process. Antonio, you should have your own coin so you can thank and recognize members of your community, too. I would be honored to design you a very special personal coin.”
I loved the idea of minting a coin of my own. Since I was a child, one of my hobbies has been collecting coins; I have a glass cabinet full of them. In addition, I have always fantasized about the treasure chest that Mr. Julián, my pirate friend, and I have hidden on a beach somewhere around the world.
In August of last year, when I returned to Houston for a final review of the book, Chris had a surprise for me. He had decided to gift me with the design of my coin. However, I did not hear from him in the next several months, so I thought he had forgotten. There wasn’t much I could do, since asking how the design was coming along felt inappropriate.
But then, at the beginning of this year, I unexpectedly received an email with the design. On one side of the coin, he designed a logo with the number seven, my name, and the words “Oceans Seven.” On the other side, there was a beautiful seven-pointed star that pointed to the name of each of the seven swims.
“How do you want us to arrange the oceans’ names?” he asked. There were several options. One was in alphabetical order, another according to the sequence in which I had done the swims, and a final one based on how difficult it had been to complete each one of them. I went for the latter option. So, I asked him to place the North Channel at twelve o’clock, followed clockwise by the Moloka’i Channel, Tsugaru and Cook Straits, the English and Catalina Channels, and, finally, the Strait of Gibraltar.
Once I had the final design, I got in touch with Steffie Gómez and told her that I hoped my coin could be minted at her father’s workshop. She accepted right away and contacted Chris to fine-tune the details and created the die for the coin. Finally, on August 12, I visited the workshop and we minted the first coins. I am very happy: now I’m a pirate with a treasure.