Porirua swimmers on the Road to Rio
If anyone would be able to boost a campaign requiring competitors to swim, run, cycle or row nearly 12,000km in 100 days, it would be Marty McDowell.
Instead, the campaign, launched recently by staff at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua, is in support of McDowell, who has been chosen to compete in the kayaking at the forthcoming Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
McDowell said he was excited to know an event like the 12,000km journey would be taking place while he was building towards the Olympics.
The campaign is another high-profile way for the arena staff to encourage Porirua residents to get fit.
Phil Waggott, assistant man- ager of Dash Swim School, said that after the successful ‘‘Swim the length of New Zealand’’ initiative to start the year, the Road to Rio ticked a lot of boxes.
‘‘We wanted another way of getting people invested in exercise, and everyone is interested in the Olympic Games,’’ he said.
‘‘We got in touch with Marty and he was generous in giving his time to come to the launch. We wanted to show him how much people in Porirua are supporting him at Rio.’’
Initially, it was thought the whole campaign could be done in the pool, but the estimated 475,000 lengths in 100 days was too much to achieve.
Everyone who registers in the Road to Rio challenge fills out a card before and after each session they cycle, run, row or cross train at the Arena Fitness Centre, or swim in the aquatic centre pool.
Champion Porirua swimmer Ben Walsh is also on board for the challenge.
The aim is for entrants to clock up the 11,878km before the the Olympic start on August 5. There are prizes and giveaways along the way, but Waggott hoped personal goals and supporting McDowell would be the central motivation.
On the last day of the games, there would be a 24-hour swimathon, Waggott said, with swimmers to seek sponsorship and raise money that would go towards swimming lessons at Porirua schools.
Marty McDowell at the launch of the Road to Rio campaign in Porirua on April 27.