Swim­ming past the pain for Cook Strait

Franklin County News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JOHN BOYN­TON

‘‘I was quite tear­ful ac­tu­ally, it was such an epic swim.’’

With his hands, feet and face swelling up Sam Muir James clawed him­self out of Lake Taupo and onto shore.

Af­ter 14 hours, 58 min­utes and 3 sec­onds of swim­ming and cov­er­ing 40.5 km from Tu­rangi to Lake Taupo, Sam Muir James com­pleted the long­est swim of his life so far.

The Otaua swim­mer, who has autism, has found a pas­sion in tack­ling long dis­tance open wa­ter swims.

In April, Sam will set his sights on his ma­jor goal of suc­cess­fully cross­ing the Cook Strait.

Last month, Sam en­tered the cold wa­ters of Lake Taupo at 4am, greased down in axel grease.

His guide, open wa­ter swim­ming vet­eran Phillip Rush and coach Jane Lo­gan, fol­lowed along­side Sam in an IRB boat.

Sam’s mum, Jane, said Phillip wanted Sam to at­tempt the Lake Taupo swim be­fore he looked at him for the Cook Strait.

‘‘He wanted to get to know him be­cause of his autism.’’

Around the 26km mark, Sam said he started to feel the ef­fects of the swim. ‘‘I got a bit of cramp.’’ He said he took his mum’s ad­vice and ’’kicked it out’’, un­til the fi­nal five kilo­me­tres when his body started to give up.

How­ever, he made it onto the shores of Lake Taupo in front of a small crowd that had gath­ered.

Jane said she could not be any prouder of her son’s ef­forts.

‘‘I was quite tear­ful ac­tu­ally, it was such an epic swim.

‘‘I just yelled to all these peo­ple, this is my son and he’s been in the wa­ter since 10 past 4 this morn­ing.’’

Jane said peo­ple all over the world had fol­lowed Sam’s progress through a live tracker.

He has re­ceived con­grat­u­la­tion mes­sages from open wa­ter swim­mers and peo­ple with autism, who Jane said saw him as a true in­spi­ra­tion.

She said the back­log of swim­mers at­tempt­ing to cross the Strait, meant Sam has been ten­ta­tively sched­uled to cross the strait next month.

For the mean­time, Sam will have light train­ing du­ties and his coach will fo­cus on his speed work.

With the Cook Strait swim be­ing around 26km, Jane said the Taupo swim was ideal prepa­ra­tion.

‘‘We’re hop­ing for the phone call and things are look­ing re­ally pos­i­tive.’’

Sam Muir James swam more than 40km across Lake Taupo.

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