Swimming will harm your health

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Veteran triathlete Pryde wants to clean up Lake Hayes.

Veteran local swimmer and triathlete Tom Pryde is determined to fix Lake Hayes’s algal bloom, which he says is affecting his health.

Pryde, who lives at Lake Hayes and has swum the lake for 25-plus years, says unsightly brown algae is blooming for the third summer in a row.

Every time he finishes a swim, he picks up irritating hayfever-like symptoms, he says.

With other residents, he’s formed the Lake Hayes Water Quality Enhancement Society to lobby Queenstown Lakes District and Otago Regional Councils to source the problem and fix it.

“That’s what I pay my rates for, as far as I’m concerned.

“Everyone here wants that lake fixed, not just the swimmers, but fishermen, people who have painted and photographed it, people who take their kids to it, tourist operators who don’t want a bloody big brown sewage pond in the middle of a tourist area …”

Triathlete Pryde says Queens­town wouldn’t have won the hosting rights for the world triathlon champs – five years ago this week – if Lake Hayes, which hosted the swimming leg, had been in its current state.

He brought the 1800-competitor event here as Triathlon New Zealand president.

He says issues such as water quality at Lake Hayes were important in the bidding process – “I would have trouble hawking that lake around the world if [the event] was now.

“I wouldn’t have the same conviction about what a beautiful lake it is to swim in.”

Lake Wakatipu was dismissed as an alternative event venue, Pryde says. “A lot of skinny guys from the northern hemisphere who haven’t got experience of cold water like that, they’d be half-dead when they got out.”

Pryde’s sure NZ will get the worlds again because of its profile in the sport but he’s less certain of Queenstown because a lot of other towns and cities would bid.

Arthur Klap, who organised the Queenstown worlds, says an economic impact report suggested the event was worth $20 million to the resort – another benefit was two Oceania triathlon champs were also held on the course in the lead-up.

The event had a budget of $2.3m excluding GST and recorded a surplus of about $12,000, Klap says.

Apart from sponsorship, Klap says what made the difference was Queenstown businesses providing in-kind support to the value of about $150,000.

The event also proved a springboard for Hamish Carter and Bevan Docherty winning gold and silver at the Athens Olympics the next year.