Swimming past the pain for Cook Strait
‘‘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.