New Zealand Open Water Swimming Association Kicks Off With Record Swim By Jonathan Ridler

New Zealand Open Water Swimming Association Kicks Off With Record Swim By Jonathan Ridler

Courtesy of Simon Olliver, New Zealand Open Water Swimming Association.

In the midst of lockdowns and quarantines, people had the opportunity to slow down and think what is possible and necessary.

Simon Olliver and a group of marathon swimmers got talking and established the New Zealand Open Water Swimming Association. “We have been isolated away here in New Zealand so there are no overseas trips for swims. This has given us the chance to discuss this and form the organization, NZOWSA.

The purpose is to promote and encourage safe open water swimming, and to provide a ratifying body with a pool of trained observers. NZOWSA is a volunteer organization and has no business relationships with any escort pilots though we may recommend pilots to swimmers. We are not entering into direct competition with any existing commercial operations, but will however provide an observer for swimmers who arrange their own pilot. Members of the NZOWSA team have participated as crew and swimmers on the last three Foveaux swims so there is some experience there and we hope to work on that swim to get a few more across.”

NZOWSA had its first opportunity – and success – on February 22nd when they observed and ratified Jonathan Ridler’s crossing of the Foveaux Strait that lies between Stewart Island (Rakiura), New Zealand’s third largest island, and the South Island.

Ridler set the 28.6 km channel swimming record in 7 hours 52 minutes, breaking the 8 hour 30 minute record set in 2016 by Chloe Harris of Christchurch. Ridler also completed the New Zealand Triple Crown of Swimming with his record-setting effort (28.6 km Foveaux Strait + 23 km Cook Strait between North Island and South Island + 40.2 km Lake Taupo).

Photo by Paula Bull

For more information and additional swims, visit the NZOWS’ Facebook page here.

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Steven Munatones