12-year-old’s record swim
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.