Lake Taupo Adventure, New Zealand
While many of you are celebrating cold water winter swimming feats, I thought I would regale you with a swimmingly tale from the somewhat warmer New Zealand. On Sunday Mike Cochrane (marathon swimmer and swim tracker IT guru) and myself (Alice Sagar), went on a true Kiwi Adventure across Lake Taupo.
While Lake Taupo (which forms part of the New Zealand Triple Crown) is more commonly known for it’s 40.2 km full length swim, we decided that the mysterious Western bay was screaming out for a visit. The idea being, we’d go say “hello” to the most western point, and then swim back the following morning in a direct line east, to create a “new” longest width swim at 30.1 km.
On Saturday night we embarked on our Charter vessel (with Richard as our lovely host and skipper) and our supreme support crew consisting of Philip Rush and Su Scott. On arrival at Te Papa Bay we found a quiet secluded spot surrounded by towering cliffs, and more importantly an ideal starting point just north of a thin “shoot like” waterfall which channeled a local fresh water (and very cold) stream into the lake.
After an evening of watching trout rise on the lake, then a short(er) sleep than most, we started our swim just after 4 am the following morning. We were very careful to avoid the colder column of water coming from the stream! For the first hour, in addition to each other, we had the moon and stars for company, along with Phil and Su beside us in the IRB. This first hour was also the calmest of the day. As soon as we were out of the protection of the cliffs the expected westerly wind joined us for the remainder of the day.
While arguably helping us at some level, the westerly was somewhat wilder than what the forecast originally predicted…. resulting in gusts up to 35 knots and a swell to suit. This meant for some unexpected body surfing during the day, which was to then turn to slightly more angular swimming (and the odd unwelcome mouthful of water) as the wind shifted to a less comfortable south-west. I sometimes forgot we were on a lake…. and I also felt huge levels of sympathy for Phil and Su who had stuck continuously by our side supporting and managing our feeds in what was very uncomfortable conditions for themselves. Needless to say the swim was truly a team effort, and it was lovely to look up and see Phil and Su cheering us on.
After Mike and I celebrated the imaginary island at the middle of the swim (all those who have swam Lake Taupo will understand this reference :-) ) we continued east. Ten hours and 48 minutes after our start, and much to the surprise of the soul fly fisher on the beach, we rolled and tumbled ashore (well I rolled and tumbled, Mike’s arrival was arguably more graceful) at Waitahanui Beach.
As both Mike and I have previously (albeit on separate occasions) completed the traditional south-north swim, we have now visited all four corners (does a lake have a corner?). I’ve decided to unofficially term this a “Southern Cross” crossing of Lake Taupo, with the two combined swims creating the four points of the Southern Hemisphere Southern Cross star constellation (check out our flag for reference :-) )!
All in all, a great day out. Happy swimming everyone!