By PHILIP CHANDLER
Queenstown’s second annual Whakatipu Legend swim today is that rare event this month — it’s still going ahead.
This time, it comprises four races rather than three, and all finish at Kelvin Grove beach
rather than Queenstown Bay.
The races are a 5km across-the-lake swim from Refuge Point, by Cecil Peak, a 3.8km
swim, in which swimmers leap off a boat around the back of Kelvin Peninsula, and 1.9km and 1km out-and-back swims from Kelvin Grove.
The 5km Haki-te-Kura crossing, named after a woman who, according to Maori legend, was the first person to swim across Lake Whakatipu, has attracted a sell-out field of 60.
The 3.8km distance — chosen as it’s the swim distance in long-distance triathlons — will have about 80 starters and the 1.9km and 1km swims will have about 30 and 15 swimmers, respectively.
About half the field are from out of town, including big groups from Christchurch, Wellington and Dunedin.
Numbers, while similar to last year, have bobbed up and down a bit because of Covid, organisers Lucas Fornes and Richie Lambert say.
‘‘We wanted more swimmers but that’s fine, we’re just happy to run an event,’’ Lambert says.
‘‘I can see we have an event that’s going to grow three, four-fold in the next four years.’’
He says the beauty of Kelvin Grove is it’s more sheltered than Queenstown Bay.
If the lake cuts up too rough, the crossing will be switched to a course in Frankton Arm.
The Kelvin Grove ski lane’s closed this Saturday between 7am and noon for the event.
‘Competing against myself’
You’d expect a council boss to some times find themselves in deep water — well, that’s exactly where local council CEO Mike Theelen will be today.
An experienced swimmer, the 61-year-old’s undertaking his first lake crossing as part of The Whakatipu Legend event.
‘‘I’ve wanted to do this and I haven’t been able to do it, so the race has given me the opportunity,’’ he says, likening it to ‘‘an emotional challenge’’.
Theelen, who competed in the Legend’s 3.8km event last year, says nothing beats swimming early in the morning, particularly on a flat lake — ‘‘it is a very sort of zen-like experience, I find’’.
Although he’s swum for a long time, including triathlon swims, he only really got into lake swimming when he shifted here, and says the Southern Lakes Swimming Club has ‘‘a great group of people who swim’’.
As for Saturday’s race, ‘‘I think I’m in the oldest age group you can enter.
“I’m never going to win a race — put it this way, I’m competing against myself’’.