To most people, nothing about my plans to swim ‘SCAR’ made sense. I quite enjoyed telling people that I was heading to Arizona to go and swim in the desert, and not just that, I was going to swim at least a marathon distance everyday for four days. But to the swimmers who know me it made perfect sense.

SCAR is an acronym for four man made lakes north of Phoenix – Saguaro, Canyon, Apache and Roosevelt. I first heard about the swim from a kiwi who had done it before meeting one or two others who had swum it while I was in the UK. It was the perfect goal for me – a challenge for me to train for and an overseas trip to look forward to.

Being my first swim event over 20km, I had to step my training up for SCAR. It all looked a bit daunting to begin with. I couldn’t just cruise along and needed to squeeze the training in where I could. Thankfully it helped that the training builds up over time and I only ever needed to mentally prepare for ‘just a bit more’.

I quickly discovered that I wasn’t embarking on a solo enterprise. Thanks to the awesome Wellington swim community and my swim squad, I rarely trained alone. From the start of the season there was a small bunch of us training for long marathon swims making it easy to get longer weekend distance swims in. It was encouraging that for my last big pool set before SCAR, I had a small tag team of swimmers join me and keep me company. I was also fortunate to be able to sit down with Eliza, ex-SCAR american swimmer who had moved to Wellington, being able to get a better sense of what to expect and skyping in Kat my kayaker.

Day 1: Saguaro

The day before it all started we drove to Saguaro to check out the lake and instead of being nervous, I was really excited. During my training and planning, SCAR had always been in the future and now it was in the now.

It’s fair to say that there were a few nerves around however before the first swim. The skype call with Eliza in the lead up to the swim was a great way to calm Kat’s nerves. Hearing some Apache war stories over the welcome dinner however managed to resurrect Kat’s nerves. If I was a bit nervous, I decided I would tried to hide it from Kat.

Saguaro was great for conquering nerves. It also made me more excited about the other swims. We were boated to the start of the swim and were soon off. It was great to be able to get the view of the lake from the boat before the start, it helped us to realise what a magic spot we were in. ‘Wow, look at the cacti’ quickly became my most common comment on the feeding stops – so unlike anything in New Zealand.

I probably struggled the most after Saguaro. Both the water and the air temperatures were warmer than what I had expected. The temperature was probably in the mid-30s at the end – too hot!

Before the swim, I got some good advice from Phil Rush about making sure I planned for my recovery between swims. One of these bits of advice was ‘to make sure you go for a swim after your swim’. At the time I thought this was a bit ridiculous as I was going to be doing plenty of swimming as it was. As it turned out, the pool at the ranch was a perfect way to cool down after Saguaro, as well as helping set me up for day 2 – Canyon.

Also helping the recover (and a food highlight of the trip), was the cowboy cookout at the ranch.

Day 2: Canyon

This must have been the most relaxed day. We all knew what to expect after day 1 and the distance was just a tad shorter than day 1. Added to that, we were once again in a magic spot – swimming through a canyon with lots of cacti.

I was expecting it to take a little bit of time to get my arms into the swing of things but I surprised myself and was soon off. I knew I would have Apache after Canyon but I didn’t use this as a reason to swim slow. I set myself the goal of swimming consistently. The cooler water in Canyon also helped. Kat also enjoyed the shade from the canyon and the awesome views on the kayak.

Other swimmers and kayakers soon got to know us as we passed (or they passed us). This was partly because we had ‘Harry’ the kiwi at the helm for all four swims. I had originally got the idea of a mascot after seeing the kayaker for an Australian swimmer tow a crocodile from Waiheke Island.

From Canyon we drove the Apache trail through to the Apache resort. We were those tourists that stopped at every viewpoint to take photos and then jumped quickly back into the car before the heat became too much. So many cacti! This drive definitely made me excited for day 3.

Day 3: Apache

Through this experience I have discovered how much of a good friend Kat is. Despite not being a morning person, and having no access to a good cup of tea, I got Kat up at ridiculous hours every morning. Before Apache, we must have been in bed by 8.30pm to successfully muster the early meet up. It was lovely for Kent to hand out special ‘SCAR crew’ mugs to the kayakers at 5.30am before the third and biggest swim.

For the first year, the organisers decided to bus swimmers and kayakers to the start of Apache to allow an early start. In previous years, it sounds like the wind has picked up in the afternoon making this a particularly tough swim. We couldn’t have asked for better conditions for our swim, and potentially a bit of assistance near the start (tailwind?).

If Saguaro and Canyon were amazing, the scenery at Apache was more so. Everything was bigger and more impressive. And again, so many cacti! I tried to soak it in on the feed stops.

Despite being day 3, I was feeling good which surprised me. I had expected to be feeling my arms and struggling a bit by this point. If anything, the longer swim was too my advantage. I got into my grove and loved it. Again, I focused on staying consistent. It helped that I was loving it because it helped me to mentally not to focus on the length of the swim.

A couple of times Kat asked if I wanted to know where I was, I said no. I wanted to focus from one feed to the next. Feeding did help keep time and I thought I was going to do a 7 hour swim with the resort as roughly the halfway point. Soon after 6 hours Kat told me to dig in and get to the finish. I was a bit surprised and told Kat that that wasn’t right and we weren’t at the finish. But we were. I was ready to swim another hour!

Before the swim, we had been led to believe that the kayakers would return to the resort via pontoon boat (apparently what had happened the previous year). After a hot day on the lake, Kat was ready to finish when she found out that she would have to kayak the 10km back. It’s fair to say that the kayakers were not happy. A few of us swimmers went and bought cold beverages to meet the kayakers, an attempt to say thank you. Harry the kiwi was also a bit worse for wear, his seams a bit melted in the hot sun.

We decided to move through to Globe after Apache, making a big day. But it was exciting to see the Theodore Roosevelt bridge and finish point for SCAR. We were nearly there. We finished up the day with mexican and Kat ordering a large nachos which she could barely touch so our next two meals were sorted.

Day 4: Roosevelt

It was nice to be able to sleep in before the fourth and final swim. The problem with our early starts however meant that our ‘sleep in’ was more like 7am. We were able to chill out a bit, find coffee (no tea to Kat’s dismay), and nap a bit.

Physically I was a bit tired but still good after Apache. After an exhausting Apache swim, Kat was struggling a bit to muster the energy for Roosevelt. We were both grateful that the meet up at the marina was well shaded for the send off ceremony, where one by one all of us Apache finishers were awarded with the black finishers cap.

This was one of the swims I was most excited about in the lead up to SCAR, being an evening swim. I even got myself night themed funkita togs for the occasion. As it turned out, it wasn’t dark until the end of the swim but it was lovely to see the sun set. Kat got her groove back, enjoying the scenery with the low light. Kat also got to star gaze on the kayak back to the marina.

Harry the kiwi had been resurrected for the fourth and final swim, once again making Team New Zealand easily recognisable.

Before we knew it, we were done! Overall, I came in 7th, in a time of 16 hours, 31 mins and 47 secs. The distance was officially 40 miles/64km but we quickly learnt that distances were a bit meaningless in this event. I would have swum less with expert kayak navigation and Kat would have easily kayaked more.


Lake Taupo Unofficial New Years Swim Camp

I’ve developed a bit of a New Year’s tradition that involves doing something adventure-related. You don’t have too many holidays and you might as well make the most of them. This year with a couple of us having big swim goals, we decided to hit Lake Taupo for a bit of a swim camp.

Day 0: Warm up dip at Stump Bay

After spending most of the day making the drive from Wellington to Turangi, this first day for Bre and I was more of a pre-swim. (Alice and Laura had already arrived and had a few miles on the board). It was lovely to be in the lake again with the water almost feeling silky.

We swam 2km out from Stump Bay, the original starting point for the length of Taupo swim. It was a great way to freshen up after being in the car all day. The swim was also a opportunity for sole-wetsuiter Laura to go ‘skins’ (we challenged her to drop her wetsuit at least once a day).

Day 1: Getting serious and a new appreciation for hot chips

There were no sleep ins at swim camp. We planned a good 10km swim and were keen to avoid the heat of the day, getting in the water around 8.30am. Camp mum Alice chose us a good course at Pukawa in the south west corner of Lake Taupo. The 2km circuit hugged the coast line and I quickly worked out a ‘course proper’ to not cut corners (swimming one way around a certain boat).

This was the perfect training swim for me. Getting in I felt slower than in the sea and had to readjust mentally. As I got into it however I focused less on how fast or slow or long I was swimming, and more on consistency and enjoying the swim which had perfect conditions. The swim was also an opportunity to practice feeding and sunblock rituals. Our wetsuiter Laura missed the sunblock discussion however and managed to get a nice pink tinge from her skins lap at the end.

We followed the swim with a recovery dip at the local thermal pools and glorious hot chips. We must have been the most excited people to see the food cart!

Day 2: Gravity training at the National Park

Our distance training took a back seat on day 2. We kept our morning swim to a cruisy 3km, checking out Mission Bay (the first bay that you see when driving from Turangi to Taupo). The swim wasn’t without its drama though with Bre surviving an encounter with an angry swan.

The main objective of the day was to get some cross training and acclimatisation in at the Tongariro National Park. We decided to do the Waihohonu Track from the Desert Road to the Waihohonu Hut on the Round the Mountain circuit. The walk was absolutely stunning, with clear views of Ruapehu and Ngarauhoe the whole way and an opportunity to sneak in half an hour of acclimatisation training in the stream close to the hut.

When we returned to Turangi we were ready for another dip to freshen up. This recovery session was in the Tongariro River trying not to annoy fly-fishers. We were left with a new appreciation for river swimming and planned more. (Also being good kiwis, we made sure we didn’t use the same togs in the lake the next day).

Day 3: New Year’s Day exploration

We allowed ourselves a later start on day 3 (New Year’s Day) before heading to Kuratau for our New Year’s adventure swim. We didn’t have any particular distance in mind but decided that we would swim one way for an hour before returning.

The swim course was probably the most scenic of the swim camp, crossing a river mouth, and heading under cliffs, before going past a few water-access only beaches. We stopped in a few places to explore and stop along the way. There were more people on the water than on other swims so we stuck together close to shore and were pleased to have our tow floats on us.

Our hard work over the last few days was rewarded with a well stocked picnic and an afternoon on the beach.

Day 4: Resistance training

Swim camp finished on day 4 with some resistance training in the river. We had decided on our course proper on day 2, choosing a pine tree to swim up to. Despite looking like a short distance, the current made this swim a decent burst of effort. The water was more than refreshing and a good way to wake up before making the journey back to Wellington.

Swim camp seminar: Sunblock for long distance swimming

As with any swim camp, we used some of our downtime (when we weren’t eating) to share open water experiences and wisdom. One of these, our sunblock discussion resulted in a ‘top 10 tips for sunblock when long distance swimming’. We thought we’d share these tips of the trade in the blog:

  1. Sunblock the night before and in the morning for long swims (any swim over 2 hours)
  2. Surf mud doesn’t harm the environment and stays on well – just be prepared for the post swim clean up and potential harm to towels and duvets
  3. Sunblock your bum as your togs enviably come up and nobody likes a burnt butt
  4. If you feel particularly close to your swim buddies, get them to sunblock your back fully sans togs
  5. Wetsuiters still need sunblock and are particularly vulnerable when they take off the wetsuit to enjoy some sun
  6. Most sunblocks are pretty dodgy when put to the ocean swimming test so be liberal and don’t trust them too much
  7. Don’t forget your lips and ear lobes
  8. And don’t forget to reapply
  9. To ensure maximum utility either roll the sunblock tube (like toothpaste), or cut the tube to scoop out remnants
  10. No matter how old you are, don’t be afraid to ask your mum to sunblock your back so you can relive (positive) childhood memories.

Early season swimming (and the start of the SCAR 2019 journey)

The last week in Wellington has been stunning. You know it’s almost summer when half of Wellington heads to the beach after work to briefly enjoy some sun before sunset.

It was the perfect week to up the distance a bit and get out for some sea swims in in the evenings. I had been maintaining some good distances over winter (20-25km a week) but with summer on the door step, I’m now looking to step this up. The other week I officially entered the SCAR swim in Arizona and training now feels like it’s started. I partly put this down to Phil Rush counting the number of weeks that I have to fit my training into (I had been working in months prior to talking to him).

SCAR swim is a fairly epic challenge. It will be four days of swimming in four lakes in April 2019. It adds up to over 60km in total with the longest day (the third day) being a 27km swim). While I’ve done a few swims now that are around 20km, this will be another level. I’ve wanted to do the event since another kiwi swimmer participated a few years back and really enjoyed both the event and meeting swimmers from around the world.

It’s been quite exciting to be ‘starting my training’. I put this down to two things: (1) I’m training up to do an event that I’m really excited about and challenged by, and (2) it’s a really cool time of year to be swimming.

I was discussing this with one of my swim mates this morning over breakfast and I thought I could quite easily pull together a list of reasons why we love the start of the swim season:

  • Water temperature: this time of year is when you feel the rewards of those winter sea swims. For most swimmers 15c is still on the chilly side but after swimming in cooler termperatures, 15c is fantastic! The sea is starting to feel warmer, you can swim longer but it’s still cool enough to give you a bit of an endorphin hit.
  • You’re allowed to enjoy the spa: sticking with the temperature theme, the upside of the water warming up is that the spa becomes an option after a swim (a spa at colder temperatures is not a sensible option). Similarly, you can survive ok if your swim mates choose an outdoor table at the cafe for the after swim breakfast (as happened this morning).
  • No jellyfish or salps – Provided it hasn’t rained heavily, the water around Oriental Bay in Wellington is beautifully clear and free of jellyfish or salps at this time of year. These creatures tend to arrive with the warmer water and you really do want to make the most of not having to share the harbour with them.
  • Outdoor swimming pools – It’s not all about the ocean and it’s been great to have got a few swims in at the Thorndon outdoor pool. A few of us are also planning to travel to the 50m Wainuiomata pool over summer to get some long sets in. It’s surprising the difference between an indoor and outdoor pool mentally for swimming long sets.
  • Planning adventures – This is terrible for your credit card but a lot of fun. This is the time of year when you think about entering different swim events and booking flights. You do look forward to this over winter so there are inevitably a few controversies when you find out your favourite events have had changes. (I’m not a big fan of Swimming NZ right now after they got rid of the 17.5km swim option at the January Epic Swim in Lake Taupo). Most exciting has been booking flights to America for SCAR!!
  • Getting serious: This is the time of year when everyone is thinking about their big goals and getting serious. One of the great things right now in Wellington is that there are several swimmers planning big events (including Cook Strait, Taupo and Waiheke swims). This is great for recruiting training buddies to do the long training swims with you.
  • Return of the tracker dot – The first Cook Strait crossing for the season occured the other day. It was a reminder how much us swimmers enjoy following each others’ adventures, often by following a dot on a map. The tracker was gripping viewing over the last few hours of the swim with the Brisbane swimmer almost swimming on the spot with the current changing.

Definitely looking forward to summer! I think we’ll be back to some cooler temperatures next week, but that’s ok because we’ve had a small taste of what’s to come.

A marathon swim to Devonport

This weekend was the last big swim of the NZ swim calendar, the Auckland Marathon Swim. This year’s 10km event was actually 12.5km. As the course is tide assisted, the last thing the Masters Club organising the swim wanted was for swimmers to feel short changed.

The course started at Mairangi Bay, tracked along the bays, around North Head and into Devonport. I was very fortunate to have my kayaker from my Waiheke swim offer to kayak for me so had both a local and a pro to navigate and support which was fantastic.

We all knew that there was a bit of a south westerly on the forecast but that was at the back of our minds as we started the swim. Conditions in fact couldn’t be better with the sea like glass. Some of the Aucklanders were nervous about water temperature with recent drops but at 19c it was still above average Wellington summer temperatures.

As the race started we got away from the coast and into the current. I felt fast and could feel the tide assistance. The flat conditions didn’t last very long though. As I got close to my first feed I could sense conditions starting to change. It wasn’t choppy yet but I knew it was coming.

We continued to make fantastic progress and at my second feed my kayaker informed me that we had got to Takapuna. I’m not that great with my Auckland geography but this sounded positive and like we would complete the swim in no time at all. I had to adjust my expectations slightly when on the third feed my kayaker informed me a second time that we had got to Takapuna (he had got Milford and Takapuna mixed up at the previous feed).

As the water started to chop up I didn’t let this bother me and focused on my stroke. North Head was beginning to be in view so I figured that the end was in sight. This can be the most challenging bit of a swim, thinking you’re getting close when you actually have quite a way to go.

My kayaker seemed to be managing the conditions well but it was definitely a tougher event for him compared to Waiheke where conditions couldn’t have been better. At one stage (around North Head) he did make a comment that conditions were a bit hairy which made me think about some of the less experienced kayakers battling through. It sounds like it was almost more challenging being a kayaker in some parts!

I feed every 30mins which is also my way of keeping time. I had anticipated 5 feeds and hopefully under 3 hours for the swim. My fifth feed was as we approached North Head and in my mind I calculated that I was on my final feed and ‘just around the corner’. How wrong! My sixth feed was also at North Head so I’m not sure how much distance we actually covered in that 30 mins!!

On the final leg I could sense myself getting grumpy with the swim. Devonport hadn’t been ‘just around the corner’ and it was still a decent distance after North Head to the finish. As the swim finish came within sight we thought we better follow other swimmers and head around the buoy that was out from the beach. This seemed like extra unnecessary swimming when I just wanted to finish (and it turns out no other swimmers took that route after us!).

All the grumps were forgotten at the finishline. It is quite satisfying when you complete a swim that challenges you like that. It was much slower than I thought (3h35m) but I didn’t do too badly, taking out first non-wetsuit woman and first woman overall.

A number of swimmers didn’t finish and got a tow to the end. They had an even more challenging swim. They all swam 5 hours in conditions that were getting worse the longer the swim went on.

The Masters Club declared it well and truly a 13km swim.

Swimming from Waiheke Island

The 20km Waiheke to Auckland swim started a couple of years back and is a bit different to your usual swims as its number one purpose is to fundraise for the rescue chopper up in Auckland. This year they had 75 swimmers raise ~$115,000 which was amazing. A couple of celebrties in the mix (Sir John Kirwin in the water and Brad Butterworth on the water) helped bring attention to the cause.

The swim started just after the sun came up in Matiatia Bay on Waiheke Island. It was still dark when we arrived and it was threatening to rain but as the sun came up we knew we were in for a fantastic day. We must have looked an odd bunch with the locals rushing to catch the ferry to work a bit puzzled to see the collection of swimmers, kayaks and boats on the beach on a Monday morning.

It was great to have a good number of volunteers making the swim happen. Richard, my kayaker was one of those volunteers who put his hand up. There were also a number of other boat supporters who were out on the water to help ensure a safe and successful day. I’m sure the volunteers enjoyed the day as much as us which was great.

The swim headed out from Matiatia and passed by Motuihe Island, Motutapu Island, Browns Island and Rangitoto Island before heading into Mechanics Bay. As I got going I felt great, I must have been well tapered and the tide was with us. Then about a third of the way into the swim it got even better when another swimmer and I and our kayakers got up close to a couple of orca whales. It’s not everyday you see these creatures so it was pretty special.

It must have been when we passed Motuihe Island that I first got sight of Auckland’s Sky Tower – I could now see our destination but I knew it was still a long way to go. The second half of these big swims is always the hardest. I was still feeling good physically but mentally I made the mistake of watching Rangitoto Island not move.

‘Bean Rock’ is fairly well known landmark to the Auckland swimmers and when my kayaker and I made it I thought ‘we’re on the home stretch now’. I knew the Auckland swimmers swam here in one their swim events so I naturally thought it was a couple of k from the finish. This helped me mentally but I didn’t realise we still had a quarter of the swim to go.

Nearing the end, I could start to feel my arms tiring but I still had some energy to put into the final stretch. My nose was a different story – fill of salt and making my eyes water inside my goggles.

Auckland’s below par water quality meant that we finished at the Marine Rescue Centre at Mechanics Bay rather than Judges Bay. It was exciting to hear that I was the second solo swimmer in (after another Rebecca) and the first non-wetsuiter. I had been hoping to break 6 hours but a bit of tide assistance meant I overshot that goal and swam 5 hours 20 minutes in total.

Richard, my awesome kayaker

Getting the training in for Waiheke

In March I’m planning to swim 20km from Waiheke Island to Auckland. This is a fundraiser swim for the rescue helicopter which Westpac are getting alongside and supporting. I haven’t done a fundraiser swim before so it’s great to be using my swimming to not only challenge myself but to get others behind what is a great cause.

Despite swimming this distance before at Rottnest, I’m not going to underestimate the challenge. Many of the swimmers did not complete the distance last year with conditions making it tough for both kayakers and the swimmers. This means my next month needs to be focused on training.

After my last blog, it was suggested I share more about how I train and achieve my goals. I haven’t done this much, partly because I’m not sure I’m the best person to learn from. A lot of the time I feel like I’m just feeling my way along. I’ve tried before to stick to training plans but you don’t need much to derail these.

My training however isn’t completely directionless and if I think about it there are a few guiding principles that normally work well for me. They might work for others too.

Get in the water: Always a good place to start. I’ll be trying to get in the water 5-6 days a week. These aren’t necessarily long swims. If you google it, there’s a bit of commentary out there about swimming often vs swimming big. I’m not sure there is a perfect formula though.

Out of the water activities help too: When I was in London the pool I went to only opened at 7am which didn’t allow for very long in the water but outside the pool I was walking approximately 50 mins everyday. Every bit helps when you need the fitness and endurance to be in the water a long time. In Wellington I’m now incorporating about 30 mins of cycling during the work week – not part of my swim training but still helpful.

Weekly mileage goals: I roughly track weekly mileage to gauge whether I’m doing enough. For a 20km swim I try to keep my weekly mileage above 20km a week. I’ve been comfortably sitting at or above this lately as I’ve been making the most of summer and getting the longer swims in. I might try a week or two up close to 30km but I’ll see how I go. Keeping to weekly mileage goals is always harder in winter.

Get your long swims in: As aluded to above, some will swear against doing too many long training swims while on the other hand you’ll find swimmers in Dover over a UK summer consistently fitting 6 hour swims in. For me long weekend swims can be good if you aren’t getting the mileage you’d like during the work week. But most importantly, they help you prepare mentally for the distance. (They can also be quite fun with others – 4 of us swam 9km on Saturday out from Freyberg).

Allow recovery: Sometimes you just need a sleep in. Resting up is particularly important before the big event (tapering).

Don’t freak out: Your training could always have gone better. In the end of the day you just need to jump in and trust youself to swim the distance.

I haven’t mentioned nutrition. I don’t really pay too much attention to this even though I should. At the moment, my guiding principle is probably ‘enjoy eating’. There is probably something to say about what you’re eating. I think I’m ok on this front but maybe I should think about it more.

After Waiheke I might look at other bodies of water I can conquer. The distances quickly escalate and look scary. I will probably need to pay a bit more attention to my training and refine this a bit. I’m sure the basics will remain the same though. But for now, let’s conquer Waitemata Harbour.

Final note: Don’t forget to support my swim in March. Link to donate is here:

Perfect conditions for Saturday’s 9km Freyberg to Hataitai return.

Marathon Swimming – Crazy, Awesome, Torture, or All of the Above?

It’s my second summer, the upside of deciding to return home to the Southern Hemisphere, and I really couldn’t ask for a better summer. Making the most of every sunny day, my life has been a bit dominated by swims lately. Just this weekend I joined a local bunch of swimmers to swim 4.5km from Hataitai to Shelly Bay in Wellington’s Evans Bay, and then this morning did the classic ‘swim around the lighthouse’.

In this swimming busyness I got to meet a pretty awesome and unique marathon swimmer. Ion Lazareno Tiron from Ireland/Moldova based himself in Wellington while preparing to swim the Cook Strait – his final swim in the Ocean’s Seven challenge. Ion’s swims are all enormous accomplishments but they sound far from easy. His Cook Strait swim sounded particularly grulling after conditions turned early into the swim.

A couple of my swims this month go beyond the short social swims and fall into the ‘marathon swimming’ category – the Taupo 17.5km Epic Epic and Wanaka 10km. They don’t come close to the distances Ion has been swimming but they are still good challenges. I enjoyed both even though they weren’t easy.

Why do we do it? And why do we love these swims so much?

I struggled a bit mentally in the Taupo swim. I’m not sure if it was the sporatic training or just not being in the zone. It took me a few 2.5km laps to get over myself, realise that I was more than capable of doing the swim, and just focus on what I was suppose to be doing. In the end I enjoyed it. I took it one lap at a time and enjoyed the accomplishment at the end.

Wanaka was a shorter swim at 10km and absolutely magic. The swim was in 18c water, around Ruby Island and surrounded by the Alps. Being a shorter swim, I tried to inject a bit more speed into it and set myself little goals. It wasn’t easy but it was far from the grulling experience Ion got on the Strait. And I loved it.

Us marathon swimmers are a determined bunch. And why? Because we realise the swims are worth doing.

Magical Lake Wanaka
The Ruby Finish