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.