The Day The Brothers Met 'The Brothers'

The Day The Brothers Met ‘The Brothers’

Courtesy of Infinity Channel Swimming

Cook Strait 18.02.2023

Joe and John Zemaitis USA

Following Cyclone Gabrielle there was little hope of any fair weather days in this neap window for USA brothers Joe and John Zemaitis. Spending their days in Picton watching the Super Bowl Final and swimming The Sounds, they remained hopeful they would get a chance following a five year wait for their Cook Strait swim.

Then a weather opportunity happened. With advice from Joe Heberley and his knowledge of the Cook Strait, Joe and John got a green light. With multiple long distance marathon swims and triathlons in their armour their 6th of their Oceans Seven would be possible.

Starting North of Perano Head, South Island NZ it took a while for each to find their grove, Joe slightly ahead of John. Joes 58 SPM for Johns leisurely yet profitable 48. A speedy 4KPH start dropped to a measly 1KPH with Wash Rock as the first of their obstacles. No messing with this piece of water as they were pulled south instead of East. Released from Wash Rocks mixed bag of water the brothers approached ‘The Brothers’ welcoming a stunning sunrise.

The Māori name for the group, Ngāwhatu-kai-ponu, literally means “the eyes that witnessed”

Feeding every 45 minutes there was little chat only distance swam announcements and quickly back to swimming. As the hours passed a friendly calm sea state welcomed them. Looking at the distance to swim as 2K it looked like a 7 hour finish for the brothers Zemaitis. Last feed boys. Pick up the pace, 2k to shore was the update. The depth markers lessened and the mountains of Cape Terawhiti encroached. Then the rip happened ! With a 4K push South only their speed and endurance kept them from a further Southerly drop, pushing hard with every stroke to maintain their Easterly gain.

Eventually, Mother Nature said ‘yes’ and with that same 2K still to swim almost 90 minutes later their tickets were punched and they were granted passage to the North Island. Landing at Oteranga Bay their 6th Oceans Seven was in the bag.

Joe and John Zemaitis



Captain | Grant Orchard

Boat Crew | Andrew Fishburn

Crew | Jacqueline McClelland


Observers | NZOWSA

Simon Olliver, Roger Matheson & Christina Harris

**subject to ratification