Marathon ef­fort for swim­mers

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By LAU­REN PRIESTLEY

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.’’

Photo: LAU­REN PRIESTLEY

Strong strokes: Green­lane swim­mer Robina Hewlett, front, and swim­ming pals, from left: Wayne An­nan, Jon Robin­son, Brent Foster and Kim Mag­ill.

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