Tuesday December 30 – January 1st
I didn’t know what to expect as I climbed on the plane to head down to New Zealand for the Triple Lake swim. However, like I said before, you don’t turn down an opportunity to meet some of the big names in marathon swimming when they have asked you to participate in a relay. Plus this was another great excuse for me to get back to New Zealand.
I climbed on the plane ready for a great adventure and an opportunity to get to know more swimmers. The plane was half empty which means that I had 3 seats to myself which is great on a long flight. I managed to work my way through one book, 3 movies and a few hours of sleep. As we hit midnight on New Year’s eve the flight attendants quietly walked through the cabin and whisper blew some horns and quietly whispered “Happy New Year”. I thought it was pretty amusing. Plus they had taken the time to decorate the plane with streamers and balloons. There was some pretty bad turbulance where even I was white knuckling it for an hour or so. There was one point where there was such a large drop that I think the whole plane was jarred awake and there was some screaming. The pilot only came on the PA and asked the flight attendants to take their seats. It wasn’t until we landed that he explained that the plane and their skills were fully equipted to handle that type of turbulance. I was thinking that announcement could have come 10 hours earlier.
Ok so I landed in Auckland and then it was one last flight before I met the Palfreys in Taupo. Luckily my 2 bags were 49.7 and 49 pounds respectively so they squeeked under the baggage charge, with the exception of the little puddle jumper to Taupo. After I saw the plane I was wondering if they would even take my bags. They did…thankfully as I had the t-shirts for the team.
I landed in Taupo and Chris and Penny arrived shortly afterwards to pick me up. Chris and Penny are from Townsville Australia Queensland. Now I had only met Chris and Penny for about 30 seconds before we jumped into the Hudson River for the Manhattan swim. I wasn’t sure what I was in for and I bet they felt the same way. I didn’t need to worry. We got on like gang busters. Chris and Penny took me back to our little cabin. It was a small but very cozy place and it had a great view. We sat down for a great breakfast and time to relax. After breakfast, we headed out to Huka Falls.
That afternoon we went for a nice stretch out swim. Lake Taupo was a beautiful temperature. My guess was that it was around 66 degrees. It was nice to be back out in some open water, as I was getting very tired of training in a pool.
Chris, Penny and I enjoyed a great dinner and realized as we were getting ready for bed that it seemed like we had been on vacation for weeks and that it didn’t seem like we had just really met about 7 hours earlier. I knew this trip was off to a great start.
Friday January 2nd
We started getting into the normal routine of a morning swim and breakfast. And honestly, I can’t remember what we did this day. Oh I think we spent some time in town as I didn’t bring the right international adapter, so we were looking for this. And then we also did some shopping for folks back home.
Then in the afternoon it was time for a nap, which was also part of the normal routine…I could really get used to this pattern. Philip Rush, event and boat organizer, came over for a little chat about the swim. Man did he have some great stories.
For the afternoon swim, we met up with Barbara, Peter, Michael and Steve Junk. This crew came from Perth Australia. Peter and Michael took some photos of the swimmers and then were off for a run. And then Barbara, Steve, Chris, Penny and I went out for another short swim.
After the swim, we hit a local pub for some drinks and socializing. I quickly became the target for many smart comments. I suppose I was at a disadvantage as being the only American. But it was very educational for me. Apparently swimsuits are togs. Plus it was just another fun evening. This was turning out to be a great adventure.
We began our normal routine by heading down to the Lake for a morning swim. The water was a little chopper today as there was a wind and it was kind of rainy. We swam out to the floating golf green. Apparently it is a challenge where people can tee off from the shore into different golf holes and if they get it inot certain holes they win money. Chris and Penny figured that we could work out some sort of trick by putting a golf ball in the hole while swimming and then go to tee off. We never did try it. Our goal was to not get beaned in the head as we circled the floating golf green.
After swimming we always headed back to the cabin for breakfast. Then it was off to our next adventure of Orakei Korako, a geyserland and cave wonderland. It was beautiful if only a little smelly. At Orakei Korako there is a cave pool where if you put in your left hand and make a secret wish, it is guaranteed to come true. Needless to say, we all made our wishes.
For dinner, we ate in and invited Stephen Spence who had just arrived into town. This evening we also had Heather Osborne, Julie Bradshaw and Lucy Roeper stop by. This was going to be so much fun. I had to continually pinch myself to believe that this was all real.
It is the day before the swim and of course we go for our morning swim and breakfast. Then the team is going to arrive at the cabin for the safety meeting. Over the past few days, the team have been rolling into town and now we were all here.
At 12, we all met for the meeting and to go over the rules. We were swimming in FINA approved suits, maintaining same rotation throughout the swim and if a swimmer was injured or couldn’t continue the team would continue with one less swimmer. It would end up being about 120k swim (~63 miles). Rotation would happen after an hour of swimming. Unlike running relays, open water swimming relays go by time not by distance, so each swimmer swims for an hour and then another swimmer gets in to take over after an hour. We took some team photos and set the order of the swimmers.
After the team meeting it was over to the Pack N Save to do a group shop to get all the food for the boat. It was an interesting shop as the men’s team was together and the women’s team was together, but we kept looking at each others carts and there was some borrowing of goods. The men had made it to the bakery first and cleared out all the scones. The women weren’t exactly pleased so we borrowed some of the scones. Once the shopping was done it was back to the cabin to rest and get ready for the GREAT adventure.
Early to bed as we had to have the boats loaded and ready to go by 2:30am. Ugh. that is early.
Pre-swim photos. I did put comments to help explain. Hopefully they come across.