The life of an open water swimmer

A week back from my Perth trip I’ve found myself back on the road for another swim weekend. I booked the swims ages ago but they still took me by surprise. I was actually thinking it would be nice to have a weekend at home and going away was a bit of a chore.  

As it turned out the weekend away hasn’t been too tough. Actually quite the opposite. It’s been nice, chilled out and with a great bunch of people (impressive 20 or so Wellington contingent to Tauranga). 

The tough life of an open water swimmer…

Friday afternoon started with bubbles at the airport which another swimmer in the lounge offered to pour me to celebrate Rottnest. Day completed with a dip in the ocean and Italian.

Saturday was the ocean swim series swim at Mount Manganui – a short 2.6km around Rabbit island. Good conditions and the last of the swims for me in the series as I will miss the final King of the Bays. Following the swim was a laze in the sun at prize giving, another dip later in the day, a spa followed by an epic bbq. 

Sunday must have been the toughest day – an early start to drive to Rotorua to be greeted by 7c air temperature at Lake Okataina! The sun soon came up and we were off swimming a 6km swim in balmy 22c water. Not a short swim but not too long so I tried to up my pace in a few parts. 

A bit exhausted after lunch but appropriately we are planning some r&r at the hot pools. Back to reality and work first thing tomorrow.

To quote Laura’s frequent use of the question – “Why the hell am I doing this?” Because we love it, we just have a delayed realisation sometimes. Also food – it’s always more appreciated after a swim.




Swimming in the rain at Lake Rotoma

Today’s swim was 15 km in Lake Rotoma – the 4th largest lake in the Rotorua lakes. It’s a gorgeous spot despite the rain. At the start of the swim it was almost mystical. We swam into the mist when we started, the water was quiet and deep and it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere (there was no phone reception). It was a special place to swim.

The swim is an annual event on Waitangi Day put on by the local rotary and Whakatane swimming club and part of the Rotorua swim the lakes series. It’s a little old school (organised out the back of a caravan) and a bit odd in that you follow a buoy line so don’t have to worry about sighting. All that aside it is awesome that a local swim like this is willing to play host to a 10-15 km event (plus other distances).

There are only a few organised swims in NZ that are 10 km+ so this swim (10 laps of a 1500 m course) was an important training event for Rottnest. All 4 of us (that I know of) that are heading to Rottnest at the end of the month swam the 15 km distance. The other 15 km swimmer is training to swim the length of Lake Taupo. As a group we learnt a few important lessons that I’m sure we’ll take on board for Rottnest:

1. Leave early – we were good on this front and it mostly paid off as there were a few wrong turns taken to get to Lake Rotoma. One swimmer probably ended up taking well over an hour to drive there (it should be half an hour from Rotorua)
2. Don’t forget your togs
3. Bring two of everything – I ended up lending my spare pair of togs to the swimmer who forgot theirs but I didn’t bring two pairs of goggles and had a slight panic when I realised the strap wasn’t connected properly and was in danger of coming off (I fixed it on the next feed)
4. Don’t waste time chatting at the feed. The only reason I stuck with swimmers who were faster than me was because they spent what seemed like an age at the feeding stop
5. Tents are awesome if it is pouring down with rain (thanks Mike) – that is until they fall down (I wasn’t envious of supporters who spent the day tolerating the wet weather)
6. Wear sunblock even if it’s dull and raining.

The unofficial results (off watches as we didn’t get timing chips):
4.15 Stuart
4.28.56 Jillian
4.28.55 Mark
4.30.28 Rebecca
4.39.21 Mike

Other events
2.13 Kathie 6km?
4.08.43 Pauline 10.5km
4.11 Raewyn 10.5km