Massive ocean swim raises over $30,000

Luke Parker
Massive ocean swim raises over $30,000

Donations continue to roll in for 12 ocean swimmers who crossed the Waitamata Harbour from Waiheke Island to Mechanics Bay, Auckland, on a mission to raise money for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

With the total sitting at more than $30,000 so far, the swimmers battled the swells and icy temperatures for over 20kms after starting at 7:30am last Thursday.

Two of them were Olaf Adam and Mark Lenaarts.

SEE ALSO: Richie asking for unused sports gear

Olaf says he made the swim in 4 hours and 45mins which is much quicker than he’d expected.

“I was ecstatic for a number of reasons. The personal challenge aside, I felt very satisfied that we had managed to pull of the event and raise that much money. In addition I could see my wife and kids cheering for me so I felt that I had to strike a style victory pose. It was great to have such a large crowd of friends, family, colleagues and Chopper crew welcoming us.”

He says the hardest part was the middle section between Motuihe Island and Brown's Island.

"It was very choppy and I was worried about conditions getting worse with more than half the distance still ahead of me as well as for my kayaker James. The thought of the generous sponsorship I had received got me past this low point quickly though and once I could see the silhouette of Tamaki Yacht Club I felt on the home stretch and adrenaline kicked in from there."

Video footage from  videographer Sam Sword of Sharp Focus Media

Mark was a non-wetsuit swimmer and completed the journey in 5 hours 30mins.

"They sent the chopper out to greet us as the last swimmers in," he says. "The crewman jumped out the door and into the water with us for the last 200 metres. Getting out and seeing my wife Michelle and our two young kiddies was an amazing feeling. Relief, pride, emotional and cold!"

It was seeing his swimming buddy Jillian going through a real tough time but continue to hang in there proved to be the hardest part for Mark.

“We swam side by side for the 20kms. Jillian was having hallucinations that things were falling from the sky. She didn't tell me this until afterwards. We also had to swim through a 'boil up' of fish and seabirds that was about 200 metres wide. You know what was probably underneath all of those fish. That was not fun.”

The Chopper Swim Challenge page will remain open for donations until May 31.

SEE ALSO: Richie asking for unused sports gear

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