Marathon effort for swimmers
Imagine doing a full marathon in the water.
That’s what more than 60 swimmers have signed up for in the inaugural Auckland Marathon 10km Swim on April 19.
They will dive in at Glendowie Boating Club and head around the point to the Tamaki Yacht Club and back to St Heliers beach.
It is the first ocean swim of that length to be held in New Zealand, organiser Wayne Annan says.
Open water swimming has been growing in popularity in the past decade and a 10km event has been included in the Olympics since 2008.
The distance is equivalent to a full marathon in the water – no easy feat, Mr Annan says.
It is the longest swimming event in the Olympic Games.
‘‘It was just time for it. Open water swimming has been on the way up in New Zealand for a while now and you can see why.’’
The Glendowie man says dealing with wind, tides and currents can make ocean swimming a challenge.
But battling the elements is all part of the fun, he says.
The significant participation increases in 2013 Auckland ocean swimming events just shows how popular the sport is becoming, he says.
‘‘It definitely can be harder in the ocean, at times it can be much, much harder. Other times it’s easier. It can also be beautiful. I was swimming a while ago and the birds were diving around. All of a sudden I was in a boil-up with fish flashing past. It was amazing.’’
The field has been limited to 63 swimmers for the first event.
Each swimmer must have their own support person – in either a boat or a kayak. The support person supplies drinks and food to give them energy during the swim. The cut-off time for completion is 41⁄ hours.
Making sure everyone is safe on the day is paramount, Mr Annan says.
‘‘We really need to just see how it goes. What works and what doesn’t. Hopefully it will become an annual event.’’
Greenlane woman Robina Hewlett is taking part. She used to swim as a youngster and got back into it seven years ago. It is a real community, she says. ‘‘I’m just doing it for the challenge. It’s such a good opportunity to do a full-on event like this with like-minded people.
‘‘And it’s right on our doorstep – how lucky are we?’’ she says.
Reigning Stroke and Stride Series champion Brent Foster says ocean swimming is addictive.
‘‘There’s a little bit more skill in it in terms of reading the beach, currents and the like. I just love it. It’s outdoors and there is some serious camaraderie.’’
Strong strokes: Greenlane swimmer Robina Hewlett, front, and swimming pals, from left: Wayne Annan, Jon Robinson, Brent Foster and Kim Magill.