All go­ing swimmingly for Spear­ing

Wanaka Mir­ror re­porter Mar­jorie Cook dis­cov­ers Wanaka’s ‘‘Fast Ed­die’’ has a new, ‘‘calm­ing’’ sport.

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - M: E: M: E: M: E: M: E: M: E: M: E:

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.

Wa­ter?

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.

Photo: MAR­JORIE COOK.

In the swim: Ed­die Spear­ing con­tends there’s no eels at Ruby Is­land.

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