Seventeen locals comprehensively beat the record for the largest mass swim of Lake Wakatipu last Saturday.
The previous record for the 4.5km swim from Cecil Peak to Queenstown Bay was set three years ago by six swimmers, including Act Party leader Rodney Hide.
Three of those six were back last Saturday – Harriet Brinsley, who’s now done five crossings, Barry Robertson and 61-year-old Tom Pryde (left), who coordinated the challenge.
Pryde has swum the lake at least once each summer for the past 15 years or so.
Only he and fellow local, Harriet’s brother Andy Brinsley, used to regularly tackle the swim: “No one else thought you could do it – it was too cold, too far,” Pryde says.
But the annual Challenge Wanaka ironman, which includes a 3.8km lake swim, has been a big impetus.
Saturday’s swim – in balmy 18deg water – came after two attempts the weekend before were aborted due to choppy conditions.
First home was Otago 50m butterfly title holder McGregor Fea, 18, who only joined the attempt that morning.
“When you get thirsty, you just open your mouth,” Fea noted afterwards.
Fea finished five seconds short of one hour but was still shy of the record – believed to be 58 minutes set by Invercargill’s Wayne Evans several years ago.
The next finishers, in order, were Steve Farquharson, Tim Riwhi, Warren Ross, Joni Bentham, Paul van der Kaag, Gary McVicar, Pryde, Pete Ritchie, Robertson, Sarah Cole, Geoff Matthews, Warren Skerrett, Lucas Fornes, Morgan Garandel, Bruce McKay and Harriet Brinsley.
The 17 were supported by six safety boats and a jetski.
Pryde, a lawyer, had them all sign a liability waiver beforehand.