All going swimmingly for Spearing
Wanaka Mirror reporter Marjorie Cook discovers Wanaka’s ‘‘Fast Eddie’’ has a new, ‘‘calming’’ sport.
Ten years ago I encountered one of Wanaka’s more colourful personalities on the Motatapu mountainbike ride.
Eddie Spearing stopped beside me to fumble inside his pack for a bottle of port.
It proved impossible to forget the experience of following a portswigging British picnic monster through the Motatapu Valley.
Over time the skateboarding, snowboarding, father-of-two has generated a fairly large following, with no fewer than 1000 Facebook friends tracking his activities for the Wanaka Skate Park, Bike Wanaka, Kahu Youth and other things.
Two summers ago the 52-yearold designer took up a new activity – lake swimming – and now, he and fellow Wanaka Lake Swimmers club member Jamie Norman have organised The Ruby, an open water swimming race around Ruby Island from Waterfall Creek.
With at least 152 entries in and more expected before the weekend, the first Ruby is gearing up to be a big event.
So why did you – a skateboarder – take up swimming?
My kids were in the swimming club so I also swam. But I decided to enter the Challenge Wanaka Half in 2013 so I started training in 2012. Initially, I couldn’t swim more than two lengths without stopping for a breather. Then I learned to breathe and everything was fine. I amnow swimming 2km easily.
So all is going swimmingly now. Did you think when you moved here 12 years ago you would get in the lake?
That’s completely at odds with the action sports background I’ve got. I would never have dreamed of it . . . I would never have called myself a swimmer.
What do you think about wetsuits?
I liken it to a dolphin skin. You can glide faster. I like them, I like the weight. I feel held in, safe, protected.
The thing about water forme is the calming influence. I don’t swim to go fast, to thrash around. I try to be as smooth as possible and just experience the flow through the water. When there is wind and the waves are really big it is good fun. But when it is glassy flat, it’s the same feeling as when you are snowboarding on powder.
The silent glide, just the same feeling when carving a big powder turn and the snow peels off the rim of your board. It is a still, quiet feeling, effortless. That’s what it is like on a perfectly smooth calm day in the lake with no-one around. Eels? I’ve seen plenty just out in the bay but I have never seen an eel at Ruby Island. Eels are horrible, like snakes . . . They are too scary. I wouldn’t even eat one.
What happened to that bottle of port in the Motatapu?
We drank the whole bottle. There were three of us.
We stopped four or five times to eat cheese and crackers and salmon . . . We finished in six hours 58 minutes.
In the swim: Eddie Spearing contends there’s no eels at Ruby Island.