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Thursday, July 26, 2018

2018 New Zealand Ultra-Marathon Swim Awards Night

Courtesy of Seti Afoa, Samoa Events.

Seti Afoa, one of the most forceful and impactful personalities in the global open water swimming community, is sincerely and deeply motivated about his passion for open water swimming - and he is more than happy to share it with others.

He hosted the 2018 New Zealand Ultra-Marathon Swim Awards that honors marathon swimming achievements by New Zealand swimmers anywhere around the world and recalled the impetus for the black tie event, "In 2011 I had the honour of being invited by a friend of mine to be on his team for his Lake Taupo swim. Greg Sharp’s 13hr swim from Little Waihi in the south to the Taupo Township in the north is one of the greatest things I have seen.

I am now in direct contact with many amazing ultra-ocean swimmers like Greg. There is a case for a national celebration of our sport where the sacrifices and achievements by ultra-marathon swimmers is acknowledged and honored.

The current season that ends on the 30th May has seen on my count (there are more) 31 ultra marathon swimmers across 3 swims - two across the Cook Strait, sevent across Lake Taupo, 16 in the Chopper Swim Challenge, and six across the Apolima Strait. There are other swims and swimmers yet to go on the list.

The Awards night is not just for ultra-swimmers, but for the open water swim community to come together and celebrate our sport
."

The inaugural event in Auckland, New Zealand on July 14th was sold-out where Afoa's passion was shared by many others.

Among the night of celebration, Philip Rush, Sandra Blewett and Keith Hancox were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Rush found himself in an unusual position. Not only was he honored for his many open water accomplishments, but he also served as the evening's keynote speaker when he described nostalgically about his record-setting achievements from the English Channel as a seasoned professional marathon swimmer to the Cook Strait crossing as a 16-year-old rookie.

Blewett's achievements were also numerous - from the Cook Strait and across the Foveaux Strait to multiple crossings of Lake Taupo and her 44-hour marathon swim from Whangarei to Auckland. These swims were described to the audience and included the concurrent achievement of raising over $3,000,000+ for charity with her swims.

Hancox was remembered for becoming the second person to swim Cook Strait in 1964 at the age of 25.

Afoa explained his purpose, “I wanted the Awards to honor current and past swimmers. This is one sport where someone achieves an amazing goal and swims for hours and even days, gets to the other side gets out and goes home. There is no applause, crowd or medal ceremony. The highlight for me was being in the same room with the community and listening to inspirational Legends Talks from current and past swimmers.

It was incredible listening to Philip talk through the psychology of his amazing three-way English Channel crossing and how at the end of the third leg he was asked whether he wanted to do a fourth leg. He didn’t and he regrets it to this day.

I was also very happy that eight from Apolima Strait - Mike Cochrane, Bronwen Burmester, Christina Harris, Jacques de Reuck, Bronwyn Copeland, Su Scott, Andrew Cave and Alice Sagar - attended the awards and were honored with the NZ Legends Award
.”

Caitlin O'Reilly of Auckland was the youngest female and youngest New Zealander to swim Cook Strait at the age of 12 in 2017. Chloe Harris of Christchurch was honoured for the New Zealand Triple Crown of Swimming that includes crossings of the Foveaux Strait from Stewart Island to the Bluff, the Cook Strait between North Island and South Island, and the 40.2 km Lake Taupo course.

Afoa explained the link between a veterans like Hancox and Rush and emerging newcomers like O'Reilly, "The foundation for ultra-marathon swimming in New Zealand was well set by the pioneers and legends of the sport in the 1960's and 1970's. There were only two swimmers to swim the Cook Strait in 1960's: Barry Devonport and Keith Hancox. There were eight successful crossings in the 1970s; John Coutts completed two crossings as did Meda McKenzie at 15 years of age.

Then came the Golden decade of ultra-marathon Swimming in New Zealand with 27 successful crossings of the Cook Strait with Philip Rush leading the count with 5 crossings. Elizabeth Horner accounted for two as did McKenzie again who repeated her double crossing of six years earlier.

That surge in the 1980's across Cook Strait has not been repeated yet, but it did set up the culture of ultra-swimming that we now enjoy.

Also, Lake Taupo was becoming a popular challenge. The third New Zealand swim across Foveaux Strait from Stewart Island to the bottom of the South Island is the unsung hero in this mix - it completes the New Zealand Triple Crown of ultra-swims.
."

About the Awards

The swims include the 23 km Cook Strait (2), 34 km Lake Taupo (7), 22.3 km Apolima Strait (6), 20 km Chopper Swim Challenge (18), 41 km Around Rarotonga, Around Rangitoto, and the 22.6 km Matapouri Marathon from Poor Knights to Matapouri in Northland. There are also European and USA swims and new solo swims in Rarotonga and around New Zealand.

For more information, visit NZ Ultra Swim Awards.

Cook Strait Honourees
* Paul Feltoe from New Plymouth on February 8th 2018 in 9 hours 4 minutes 11 seconds
* Royce Evans on February 11th 2018 in 6 hours 13 minutes 48 seconds

Lake Taupo Honourees
* Chloe Harris from Christchurch on December 22nd 2017, 40.2 km from Little Waihi to Taupo Yacht Club in 13 hours 49 minutes
* Hannah Drury from Christchurch on January 20th 2018, 40.2 km from Little Waihi to Taupo Yacht Club in 14 hours 19 minutes
* Gabrielle Gunn from Wellington on January 30th 2018, 40.2 km from Little Waihi to Taupo Yacht Club in 16 hours 31 minutes 59 seconds
* Alice Sagar from Wellington on February 4th 2018, 40.2 km from Little Waihi to Taupo Yacht Club in 12 hours 35 minutes 51 seconds
* Hayley Underwood from Palmerston North on February 15th 2018, 40.2 km from Little Waihi to Taupo Yacht Club in 14 hours 13 minutes
* Angela Moir from Christchurch on February 18th 2018, 40.2 km from Little Waihi to Taupo Yacht Club in 15 hours 38 minutes 8 seconds
* Vicky Tate from Wellington on Mary 6th 2018, 40.2 km from Little Waihi to Taupo Yacht Club in 15 hours 4 minutes

Apolima Strait
* Bronwyn Copeland from Tauranga crossed 22.3 km in 7 hours 30 minutes 34 seconds on April 6th 2018
* Andrew Cave from Auckland crossed 22.3 km in 7 hours 36 minutes on April 6th 2018
* Dave Edgar from Blenheim crossed 22.3 km in 8 hours 12 minutes on April 6th 2018
* Alice Sagar from Wellington crossed 22.3 km in 8 hours 14 minutes 24 seconds on April 6th 2018
* Jacques de Reuck from Auckland crossed 22.3 km in 10 hours 45 minutes on April 6th 2018
* Su Scott from Nelson crossed 22.3 km in 11 hours 10 minutes on April 6th 2018

Catalina Channel
* Paul Feltoe from New Plymouth crossed in 10 hours 21 minutes on July 10th 2017 from Catalina Island to California

North Channel
* Simon Olliver from Christchurch crossed in 11 hours 56 minutes on July 5th 2017 from Northern Ireland to Scotland

English Channel
* Daniel Abel from Christchurch crossed in 11 hours 2 minutes on July 9th 2017

Around Rarotonga
* Daniel Abel from Christchurch completed the 34 km clockwise circumnavigation swim in 11 hours 2 minutes on September 17th 2017

Around Rangitoto
* Brent Foster from Auckland completed a 20 km swim around Rangitoto in 5 hours 8 minutes on May 1st 2018
* Peter Cosseboom from Auckland completed a 20 km swim around Rangitoto in 5 hours 8 minutes on May 1st 2018

Chopper Swim Challenge
* Rebecca Clarke completed a 20 km swim from Waiheke Island to Auckland in 5 hours 4 minutes on March 26th 2018
* Rebecca Hollingsworth completed a 20 km swim from Waiheke Island to Auckland in 5 hours 20 minutes on March 26th 2018
* Bronwen Burmester completed a 20 km swim from Waiheke Island to Auckland in 5 hours 25 minutes on March 26th 2018
* Ben Grenfell completed a 20 km swim from Waiheke Island to Auckland in 5 hours 29 minutes on March 26th 2018
* Nigel Marsden completed a 20 km swim Waiheke Island to Auckland in 5 hours 30 minutes on March 26th 2018
* Dean Powdrill completed a 20 km swim Waiheke Island to Auckland in 5 hours 30 minutes on March 26th 2018
* Mike Cochrane completed a 20 km swim Waiheke Island to Auckland in 5 hours 31 minutes on March 26th 2018
* Olaf Adam completed a 20 km swim from Waiheke Island to Auckland in 5 hours 32 minutes on March 26th 2018
* David Conradie completed a 20 km swim from Waiheke Island to Auckland in 5 hours 47 minutes on March 26th 2018
* Raewyn Barker completed a 20 km swim from Waiheke Island to Auckland in 6 hours 9 minutes 37 seconds on March 26th 2018
* Sally Catt completed a 20 km swim from Waiheke Island to Auckland in 6 hours 22 minutes on March 26th 2018
* Denise Clark completed a 20 km swim from Waiheke Island to Auckland in 6 hours 26 minutes on March 26th 2018
* Katie Birchall completed a 20 km swim from Waiheke Island to Auckland in 6 hours 32 minutes on March 26th 2018
* Lee Greshon completed a 20 km swim from Waiheke Island to Auckland in 6 hours 41 minutes on March 26th 2018
* Linda Collard completed a 20 km swim from Waiheke Island to Auckland in 6 hours 56 minutes 50 seconds on March 26th 2018
* Twinks Vitali completed a 20 km swim from Waiheke Island to Auckland in 9 hours 56 minutes 50 seconds on March 26th 2018
* Cathy Snowdon completed a 20 km swim from Waiheke Island to Auckland in 6 hours 57 minutes on March 26th 2018
* Shien Lo completed a 20 km swim from Waiheke Island to Auckland in 7 hours 20 minutes on March 26th 2018

Matapouri Marathon
* Sarah Poplar from Auckland crossed 22.6 km from Poor Knights to Matapouri, Northland, New Zealand in 8 hours 23 minutes in March 2018

Hen & Chickens to Waipu
* Sarah Poplar from Auckland crossed 20.8 km from Taranga Island in Hen & Chickens to Waipu in 10 hours 12 minutes

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