12-year-old’s record swim

Central Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - MATT STE­WART

A twelve-year-old Auck­land ath­lete has be­come the youngest fe­male to swim the Cook Strait.

Just a cou­ple of months shy of her 13th birth­day, Caitlin O’Reilly swam ashore af­ter 7 hours 19 min­utes 15 sec­onds just north of Per­ano Head in the Marl­bor­ough Sounds, just af­ter 9.30pm on Fri­day to roars of ap­proval from her sup­port team.

She be­gan the cross­ing at Ohau Point near Makara in Wel- ling­ton at 2pm.

Welling­to­nian Stephanie Ben­ning­ton was pre­vi­ously the youngest fe­male to swim the Strait, in 2007 when she was 13.

O’Reilly has been train­ing for about a year out of Coast Swim Club Auck­land, un­der coach John Gat­field.

O’Reilly said she was mo­ti­vated to beat Ben­ning­ton’s record but the swim had been a huge chal­lenge, es­pe­cially in the last hour.

‘‘I was sore, tired and cold - I felt like crap but I feel pretty proud of my­self.’’

Cook Strait swim co­or­di­na­tor Philip Rush said the feat was fan­tas­tic.

‘‘She’s a 12-and-a-half year old girl who’s done what only 103 peo­ple have done since 1963. She’s scared of the dark and we fin­ished in the dark.

‘‘She’s had to fight a lot of pho­bias and some try­ing times but she stuck with it and toughed it out,’’ Rush said.

The youngest per­son to ever swim the Cook Strait was 11-year-old Aditya Raut.

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