Jump in, the water’s fine

Masters 4Alan Sharp reckons we should dive in and try new experiences, like taking part in an endurance swim in the Waikato River.

Do you enjoy swimming, and have noted the annual Masters 5 Bridges Swim  with interest, but thought no, I could not last the distance, or the one and a half hour time limit?

Well, if local lass Karen Sharp’s experience this year is anything to go by, think again, and add it to your bucket list.

Karen finds that the best de-stressing exercise for her body is to spend two hours swimming, as often as she can, in the Hamilton pools.

Noting her regular swims, and finding she swims 5km in that time, several people expressed surprise that she did not enter swim and endurance events. They finally convinced her that the river current would assist her to clear the 7km within the time limit, of the Masters 5 Bridge Swim. So this year she gave it a go.

She entered at the back of the pack so that she was not in the washing machine of arms, legs and bodies, vying for a lead at the start. Set her own pace, and to her surprise completed the course in one hour, nine minutes, on a great, lightly overcast, Sunday afternoon. Swimmers continued to arrive for another 13 minutes.

Only 109 entered the water this year, and last year {Sunday 1 April] it was about 140. They came from Whangarei to Wellington, with Hamilton’s Sarah Mortimer at 53.24 minutes edging out Auckland’s Jared Bowden at 53.29 minutes. Peter Wilkinson of Whangarei, aged 73 came in 14th at 57.56 minutes, but was not the oldest swimmer to swim the 7.1 km. That went to 75-year-old Roy Emerson, of Cambridge, and he had a stiff hip.

The event is well organised by the Hamilton Masters Swimming Club, and is held on the first Sunday in April. They gain the exclusive right, to use that stretch of river and provide good support with marshals in patrol boats and canoes.

The Waikato Regional Harbour Master’s boat was in attendance, and those on the boats had first aid, and or, lifesaver qualifications.

Although the river was at a low level, no problems were experienced though it paid to keep to the channels, as weed is quite dense in the shallows.

Give it a go North East Waikato, as the river is so close to you. A novel, but enjoyable experience, making use of the underutilised Waikato River, that passes through Hamilton City.

Here’s Alan’s pics from this year’s event –

Masters 1

Masters 3


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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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