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New Zealand – Day of Departure

March 1, 2009

I just realized that I never talked about the what I did the day I left New Zealand.  Now I had an early flight from Taupo to Auckland and Penny and Chris took me to the very small airport.   It was a bittersweet good-bye, as I knew I had made new long lasting friends, but it was time to say good-bye for a while.  It hit me pretty hard as the plane started its climb above the lake that this adventure was coming to a close.

I arrived in Auckland with a 6 hour layover before my next flight back to the States.  I didn’t want to hang around the airport, so I hopped a bus into downtown and walked along the waterfront and main drags.  I was able to see a Palenstinian Freedom March, watch some tourist scream as they jumped from the Sky tower, and wandered around Victoria Park Marketplace.  All good things.  However, in true swimmer fashion I had read about these Tepid Baths where you could swim for cheap.  I set out to find them.  And they were as good as the guide book said.  For $4 NZD I was able to swim and get a towel.  What better way to spend the last few hours but with a quick dip before a long flight.  After swimming, I headed back to the airport and hopped on the flight home.  (Note: the flight was packed, but somehow the people next to me got upgraded and I had 3 seats to myself.  YEA!!)

Here are some pictures from the last few hours.

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A lot of good stuff

February 1, 2009

A lot of good stuff has been posted about the Taupo swim for your enjoyment. I hope to post a little bit more as I find the news stories that were written. 

News story from Queensland Australia – Just click on the red ‘x’ in both pages.



 Photo of the team after the swim

As for what I’ve been doing since I returned, I’ve been getting back into my work schedule as well as my training schedule.  Obviously I’ve been behind on my blog and on a few other tasks like cleaning the house and such, but I’m pretty caught up now.  So with any luck, I’ll post more information rather than just once a month, but don’t hold your breath.

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Who were these people anyways?

February 1, 2009

Now I didn’t know a ton about all these swimmers before I headed down to New Zealand, but I learned a ton.  Below is a very very brief resume of the swimmers.

Penny Palfrey:  one of the main organizers of the Taupo swim.  Swims include: 2 x English Channel, Cook Strait, Gibralter Strait, 2 x Manhattan Island Marathon swim, San Miguel to Mainland – Santa Barbara Channel, Tampa Bay Marathon, 8 x Rottnest Channel, Pan Pacific Italy.  Motto: Swim, Swim, Swim, Love it, Live it, be safe, have fun and kick ass!  Penny has a passion for swimming and she is a supporter of all swimmers and helping them achieve their goals.  That and she is an amazing chaser.  I think given the chance she could chase down Michael Phelps.  For more information visit 

Chris Palfrey: one of the main organizers of the Taupo swim.  Swims include: 2 x Manhattan Island Marathon swim, Tampa Bay, 8 x Rottnest Channel, Santa Barbara Channel, Gibralter Strait.  Motto:  No I’m not swimming backstroke 🙂  I can’t wait to see what Chris accomplishes when he semi-retires.  I thought I had a list of swims to do.  I think Chris’s list is 10x as long as mine.  But he has some amazing determination, so I know that given the time those swims on his list will be ticked off one by one.

Julie Bradshaw: one of the main organizers of the Taupo swim. Started marathon swimming career at the eary age of 14.  She has followed her passion around the world and participated in many world first marathon relay swims.  In addition, she is hte current world record holder for swimming the English Channel butterfly.  For more information visit

Steve Junk:  Swims: Rottnest Channel too many times to count including a double, Gibralter Strait, Sydney Harbor to Manly, 2 x Manhattan Island Marathon swim, Ederle Swim, Torquay Bay swim in England, English Channel Relay, Swimming between the Cinque Terre villages in Italy.  Apart for traveling the world for swims and work, Steve is a connoissuer of wine which he is taking to the next level by purchasing a winery.

Stephen Spence: Swims: Magnetic Island swim Queensland (Dude this was done in a shark cage…scary man)., too many 2k – 8k swims to list.  Stephen has an unusual story as just last year he was diagnosed with leukemia.  The strength that he has to overcome leukemia and then say “Yes” to the very persuasive Chris Palfrey.  I don’t know if you remember but 2 swimmers unfortunately had to drop out at the last minute.  Chris was in email conversation with Stephen and proposed he join us for the Lake Taupo Relay swim.  I don’t think anyone can turn down Chris (see my hiking account earlier).  Stephen did an amazing job and I would have never known about his previous battle.  He is a true inspiration.  Here is a great story in his own words – pages 6-8 swimmers_news_-_december_081

Mark Cockroft: Now this guy is completely crazy.  He with Steve Junk for the English Channel relay.  Plus his list of triathlons, marathons, marathon swims, etc.  Way too long to list here.  I mean he was so crazy that he after this swim he competed in an ironman just a mere 2 weeks after this swim.  I don’t have his results from this event…sorry.

Dougal Hunt: A relative newcomer to swimming and he jumped in big with marathon swimming.  In the past 2 years since starting swimming he has accomplished the English Channel and the Gibralter Straits.  In addition, he has raised $64,000 for cancer research.  In addition to swimming, Dougal has a passion for traveling.  As we speak he is trekking around South America for 6 months.  I can only imagine the adventures and probably swims that he will do.

Barbara Pellick: Barbara like everyone has a long list of swims on her resume including; 22 x Rottnest Channel including the first double.  This makes her the queen of the Rottnest Channel a title that she humbly accepts.  English Channel – Solo and Relay, Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, inaugural winner of the 10k Lake Argyle swim, etc. etc. etc.  Barbara is also just a strong supporter of the team.  On the boat it was Barb who helped me after my last leg and helped me put everything in perspective.  I am eternally grateful for that support.

Heather Osbourne:  I don’t think that there is a swim in New Zealand that she hasn’t completed or attempted.  As I’ve said she immediately gained my admiration by choosing to swim behind the boat.  I don’t have the same mental fortitude to always feel like I was chasing after the boat.  I think that Heather’s swim resume will soon include a solo crossing of Lake Taupo.  In addition to swimming, Heather has a knack for having anything and everything that anyone would need in her car.  Need something for a quick lunch, she has chips and dips in the car.  Need a scissors…it’s in the car.  How about some olive oil?  Yep its in there.  I would have loved to see her on that TV show where to get on the panel you had to provide the host with whatever he asked for.  The name of the show escapes me right now. 

Lucy Roeper:  Now trying to get Lucy to tell me about her swim and other history was like pulling teeth.  In fact, I’ve got nothing on her.  I do know that she has participated in another world first relay swim besides this one.  She is one of the best hikers I have ever seen in my life.  If we do another hike, I’m totally hitching a ride on her back.  I’m sure she would still motor through.  She has competed in marathons, triathlons and many other adventures.  She is also an amatuer boxer and has one all of her matches under the fighting name of Razer Roeper.  She says there are YouTube videos, but I couldn’t find them.  I think this is more my search skills rather than them not being there.  She has a wit that sneaks up on me and has me laughing for days afterwards. 

That’s the swimmers and then we had the shore crew of Peter and Michael.  When we would get in the water for our morning swim, this father and son duo would head out for a quick run.  Now we were only ever in the water for 40 minutes tops.  Peter and Michael would already be back from their run.  I of course assumed they had maybe run 3 miles.  I asked once and they looked at me and mentioned that they had run probably 6 miles.  WHAT?  6 miles in 40 minutes.  That and they nonchalantly state that it was an easy run.  You have got to be kidding me.  Geepers I can’t run 2 blocks let alone at least 6 miles in 40 minutes. 

Besides the running, Peter and Michael were there all the time for the swimmers.  They let us talk and talk and talk about all the different swims around the world and they geniunely seemed interested.  I partially think that Michael thought we were all nuts.    And I guess in our own ways we all are Peter and Michael included 🙂

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What do swimmers do after the Big Swim?

February 1, 2009

After a successful swim for all participants and a great dinner, what do swimmers do the next day? We get up of course and go for another swim! At 9am the next morning 6 of us met down at the Lake for a very easy very short stretch out swim. I think Mark was trying to show us up as he had already gone for a run as well. (Note: Mark was competing 2 weeks later in the Lake Taupo Ironman competition…see you thought I was crazy). After this morning swim, we finally noticed the mural on the building on the shore. There was a phrase “Fit enough to swim the distance?” It seemed very appropriate that we took a photo as we could safely say “Yes.”

After our morning swim, we had all decided to gather at the cabin that Chris, Penny and I were staying at to get even more of the stories from swim. It was a wonderful afternoon of lounging and story telling. We also went to the Thermal Hots Spring pools at our campground/resort area. We knew that there was a waterslide. What I wasn’t prepared for was the feeling of being shot out a tube like a bullet from a gun. This wasn’t a very long waterslide, but it was fast. Also at the end of the slide was some very sharp hairpin turns. Usually in the turns you slide up the side and then settle back down into the center. This was not the case with this slide, you were shot up the side, but the next turn came so fast and so sharp that you were launched into the other side of the slide. It was like being a pinball with 10 gallons of water rushing around you. I think I ended up more sore from the waterslide than from the swim all together. Don’t worry there are some pictures.

We ended the evening enjoying the sunset and a nice barbie out by the grill. I was really disappointed to see the evening come to an end as this was the last time we would all be together for a little while.  I say a little while as we naturally discussed when the next swim was going to be.  We don’t know where, but we are all excited by the prospect of another fun trip and adventure.  Tonight we had to say goodbye to Steve J and Stephen S.  The group was starting to head back to their respective homes.  I had a hunch that the lows after this swim were going to be bigger than other swims due to being with so many amazing swimmers and all of us getting along so well.  (Note: Leading up to and after a big event, I’m on a huge natural high, but eventually you have to come down.  Having a new goal to go after typically helps these lows from being too bad.)


So yes the day after the swim, we do tend to relax, but 2 days after the swim is a completely different story.   Chris had read about the best hike in New Zealand and he wanted to go.  Since I didn’t know when I would get the chance to do this again, I signed up to go as well.  Now I knew that the hike was the 19k Tongariro Crossing.  However, everything I read about difficulty was mixed.  There were some that said it was challenging and some that said moderate.  I thought for sure that it was going to lean towards the challenging.  The fact that we had to get up at 5:30am to meet the bus and the hike was going to start at 6:30ish should have been my first clue that I was in for a big challenge.  Now I actually like to hike, but I’m not a skilled or fast hiker.  That and I’m complete crap going up hills at altitude.  Hmmm…the start of this hike is to head straight up a mountain under the a clear blue sky and a blistering hot day.  (We found out later this was the hottest day on the mountain yet that season).  The views and the hike was amazing.  Chris, Penny, Lucy, Mark and Dougal were very patient with me as I huffed and puffed my way up the mountain at a snails pace.  They also made sure that I was continually lathered in sunscreen as there was absolutely no cloud cover.  I quickly found that Lucy and Mark must have had some mountain goat genes as they just ran up the mountain…seriously way fast.  When we made it up and over the mountain there was a shack to rest.  Since I had been struggling to keep up, I decided to set out early as they would catch me in no time.   As I was walking down, there was this streak of blue that shot past me with a quick “How’s it goin’ my dear?”  I thought that I was starting to halucinate, but after a quick second I realized that it had been Lucy that just breezed past me.  Dougal followed shortly thereafter.  It was a crazy hard and beautiful hike.  I was certain that I was going to die out there on the trail.  When I passed the 18k marker, I kept thinking to myself…this is almost over it only has got to be like 20 minutes more.  I started to watch the clock and there was no break in the trees.  20 minutes came and went and I was still walking in the silence of the wilderness.  Just as I was sure that this was the neverending hike and that I would have to crawl my way out of the place, I heard the voices of people at the end and of course there was Lucy cheering me on “Almost there. Keep going.”  It was sweet and she looked like she had just walked down to the store.  I on the other hand looked like I had been through hell and back. 

That evening the hikers all got together for dinner and much needed libations.  Yes there are photos…see below.

On Friday, Chris, Penny, Mark and I decided to drive down to Napier to see this art deco town.  Brief incomplete history: Napier had some natural disaster that destroyed most of the town.  The towns people then decided to rebuild the town in the art deco style.  It was very art deco, cute and quaint.  Penny and I also introduced ourselves to Pania of the Reef.  It is the bronze statue of Napier.  The story goes that the sirens of the sea lured out the girl out into the sea.  As she was swimming out to sea, she turned into the reef that is now out in the bay.  Side story is that the statue was stolen at one point.  It was found in the backyard of a local. 

On the way home from Napier we visited one of the Hawkes Bay vineyards.  Yum…wine.  It definitely helped dull the pain in my legs from the hike the day before.  For the record, I looked like I needed a walker to get around the next day.  I couldn’t get out of the car, couldn’t stand upright, and walked with a limp for a good 30 minutes before my muscles loosened up enough to move more smoothly.  But god forbid if I had to sit or stand up again as the whole loosening up process would have to start all over.  The wine made it less noticible. 

That evening the remaining swimmers got together for one final dinner.  Peter, Michael and Barbara had taken the chair lift to the top of the mountain to enjoy the view.  I thought to myself “THERE WAS A CHAIR LIFT????”  Ok not really, but I’m totally taking the easy route next time. 

I don’t know about the other swimmers, but I was dreading this night to end.  It meant that my adventure was over and it was time for me to head back to Oregon.  Not that I didn’t want to go home, but this was an amazing trip and I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye.  Barbara, Peter and Michael were going to spend some more time in New Zealand and planned to do a swim on Sunday, Lucy and Heather were also planning on being at or participating in the swim. 

After delaying as long as possible, we all said goodbye and see you at the next adventure.

The Day after the swim photos – Dragon waterslide

The Tongariro Crossing Hike

Napier day trip with Pania of the Reef

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New Zealand Lake Taupo Swim

February 1, 2009

Chris, Penny and I get up at around 1:30am to get ready for the swim.  We load up the chilly bins (aka eskies, coolers, etc).  Heather shows up to help us get all the gear down to the harbor.  Heather picks up Julie and Lucy.  Chris, Penny and I pick up Stephen S. and then it is off to the harbor.  We meet the rest of the team and the boat pilots and crew.  We quickly load up the boats and start the trip to the other side of the lake.  We have been advised to sleep for the trip over and most of us take that to heart.  As we get about 40 minutes from the start of the swim, Penny starts getting suited up and ready to kick off the swim for the women.  Steve Junk is the lead off for the men.  I’m awake at this point as is the rest of the team because I’m so excited for the swim to start.  Plus I’m a nervous nelly and like to be uber ready for when my time comes to get in the water.

Steve and Penny were in the dinghies and getting taken to the shore.  Peter and Michael had gotten up super early and drove to meet us at the other side of the lake.  It was so nice of them to be the onshore support.  Plus they were the only ones to get the photos from the start of the swim.  Penny and Steve kicked off the swim with a bang at 5:33am.  They ended up swimming together for their entire leg.  It was great to see them working together….as this wasn’t a race.  Then it was time for me and Mark to get in for our legs.  Before each of my legs, I took the prerequisite cheesy photo.  I had decided to wear a different swim cap for each of my legs so in case I saw photos I would know what leg I was in.  So Barbara agreed to take my cheesy photo before every leg.  Now Mark and I also swam neck and neck but we weren’t right next to each other like Steve and Penny as there was a boat in between us, but the boats were still very close.  During my leg, I realized that although this “wasn’t a race” it was definitely a race and I would have to work my hardest to help the women’s team.  Basically it was an hour of sprinting every 5 hours.  It was tough.  After my first leg, I was standing on the deck and watching Barbara in her first leg and over the water I hear Steve J calling “Nice swim Miss America”.  Needless to say the nickname stuck.  I thought it was so amusing, so I didn’t mind.  I of course tried to give my best beauty queen wave. 

Penny and I quickly settled into a routine on the boat.  She would swim and I would get ready to swim and cheer for her.  Then when I went in the water she would eat and get warmed up.  After I finished swimming, I would quickly eat, cheer on Barbara and then Penny and I would hit the front cabin in the boat and go down for a nap.  This routine started after the first round of swimming, as I wanted to get photos of everyone’s first leg.  Plus I think we were all too jazzed up to sleep.  And we were beginning to realize that this was very much a race. The first day was just a gorgeous day and calm waters.  Everyone was swimming very well. 

Let me recap my text messages to my dad right now and swim order.

5:33-6:30am: Penny and Steve J.  are neck and neck.  Actually I think that they were just playing with each other; one pulling ahead, and then waiting for swimmer to catch up and repeat.  I could see the smiles on their face most of the time.

6:30-7:30am: Michelle and Mark in water.  Text message: Just finished 1st leg.  Barb and Dougal in the water now.  Swimming is going well, calm water, good temp, cloudy and spirits seem high.  Men in lead for now.

7:30-8:30am: Barb and Dougal in the water.  Pretty much a close race.  At this point we all had the opportunity to see Dougal’s 50 stroke per minute stroke rate, but man he had a strong underwater pull.

8:30-9:30am: Heather and Chris in the water.  Heather has a preference for swimming behind the boat.  It is interesting and it always looks like she is chasing the boat.  I personally hate being back in this position, so I’m in complete admiration for her mental skill to hang out back there.  Plus I would be worried about the boat fumes.

9:30-10:30am: Julie and Stephen S in the water.

10:30-11:30am: Lucy and Steve J in the water.

11:30-12:30pm: Penny and Mark in the water.

12:30-1:30pm: Michelle and Dougal in water.  Text to dad: 2nd leg complete.  Julie and Chris in the water.  Sunny day, still calm water.  Boys and girls are neck and neck.

1:30-2:30pm: Julie and Chris in the water.  Now you may notice that this is a shift in the women’s team rotation.  Unfortunately sometime in the morning, Julie broke a tooth.  Philip Rush worked to schedule an emergency dentist appointment at 4pm for Julie to have her tooth fixed.  Since her original rotation would have put her at 3:30-4:30pm we had a team meeting and switched the rotation for one grouping.  This still allowed for all 6 swimmers to be in the water for the grouping and we wouldn’t have had to drop a swimmer.  Philip went and confirmed the decision with the men’s team and they approved as well.  So as soon as Julie finished her leg, Philip took the dinghy and took Julie to Taupo for her appointment.  She would be back for her next leg where we would return to our original rotation.  It was great of Philip to go to the trouble to get the appointment.  And the rest of the team made sure that everything on the boat went smoothly in their absence. 

2:30-3:30pm:  Barb and Stephen S in the water.

3:30-4:30pm: Heather and Steve J in the water.  Heather and Steve were responsible for completing the first crossing of Lake Taupo.  The women at this point were probably about 5 minutes behind the men.  On the shore, Philip, Julie and some friends were cheering for the teams.  We of course cheered for each other as our boats passed each other. Text message: The women just finished the first crossing.  Heather ran in & turned back around.  Men are 5 minutes ahead. Girls first crossing in about 10 hours 35 minutes

4:30-5:30pm: Lucy and Mark in the water.

5:30-6:30pm: Penny and Dougal in the water. We start gaining some ground on the men.  The water is starting to get a little bumpy.  We got a little cheering squad that came by from the sail boat tour of the lake.  I don’t remember the name of the boat…the Barnably, Barnacle…something with a B.  Also Julie and Philip returned from the dentist appointment.  Broken tooth has been fixed and we are all set to get moving again.

6:30-7:30pm:  Michelle and Chris in the water.  Gaining more ground.  Water getting really choppy now.  Text message: 3rd leg in.  Barb and Stephen in the water.  Sun setting and water getting really bumpy.  Girls have overtaken boys by 5 minutes.  Time for dinner.  (Note:  Dinner consisted of salad and pasta with a red sauce.  Thankfully Penny had it all cooked and ready to go when I hit the deck.  After a quick dinner and a change, Penny and I went down for our nap).

7:30-8:30pm: Barb and Stephen S. in the water.  At this point the water is getting very choppy and Barb is battling through it very well.  It was only the day after the swim that I found out that Barb was also battling stomach problems.  After her leg she was ill, but kept it a secret from the rest of the boat.  She dealt with the problem silently and with the only medication she had on hand…maalox.  In addition to the waves and stomach problems, Barb and Heather were short on rest due to the switch up in the line up.  They were champs through the whole thing.

8:30-9:30pm: Heather and Steve J in the water.  Battling even more waves.  At this point we have switched to running the swimmers next to the dinghy.  We are all wearing our glow sticks and Philip is the guide in the dinghy. 

9:30-10:30pm: Julie and Mark in the water. 

10:30-11:30pm: Lucy and Dougal in the water.

11:30-12:30am: Penny and Chris in the water.  I remember we are behind the men at this point, but we were going to gain some ground here just due to different swimming speeds.  It was probably interesting for Chris and Penny competing against each other.

12:30-1:30am: Michelle and Stephen S in water.  Now night swimming is fine for me.  I just follow the boat, but I like to follow the boat very closely.  Probably not a good thing and I was having a little bit of trouble judging distance due to the color of the glow sticks on the boat, but for the most part really like the night swimming.  Text message: 4th leg done.  Barb and Steve J in the water.  Lake has got light chop but not bad.  We are having boat trouble. Keep you updated (Note:  Sometime during the night, our boat started to burn off a very dark smoke.  Our pilot decided to speed up to burn off the oil and hopefully get the engine running better…bad news…the boat wouldn’t come out of idle and we couldn’t get it to burn off its oil.  Our boat pilot was very concerned.  He wasn’t sure it would make the return trip.  This scared me to death to think that this swim could end due to the boat, but we all talked about getting in the dinghy to finish the swim.  We weren’t going to quit no matter what).

1:30-2:30am: Barb and Steve J in the water. 

2:30-3:30am: Heather and Mark in the water.  Navigation has gotten very difficult as we are landing where there are no dwellings so there are no lights that help us see the shore.

3:30-4:30am: Julie and Dougal in the water.   There is quite a bit of confusion on the landing and the pilots and dinghy pilots are getting pretty sharp with each other.  Apparently the men’s team is headed up some creek rather than heading towards land.  We have a different heading and seem to be headed in the right direction towards the shore.  I find out that Julie and Dougal finally land and make the turn back towards Taupo.

4:30-5:30am: Lucy and Chris in the water.  Our boat is still limping along and the pilot is doing the best that he can.  He is committed to following this race to its end.

5:30-6:30am: Penny and Stephen S in the water.

6:30-7:30am: Michelle and Steve J in the water.  Text message: 5th leg complete. Barb and Mark in water.  Girls slightly ahead on the third crossing of lake.  Boat can only idle, captain is nervous, but we keep moving forward.

7:30-8:30am: Barb and Mark in water.

8:30-9:30am: Heather and Dougal in water.

9:30-10:30am: Julie and Chris in water.

10:30-11:30am: Lucy and Stephen S in water.

11:30-12:30pm: Penny and Steve J in the water.  We have now come back to our original rotation.  The women are still a little behind the men, but Penny loves the chase and is great at the chase.  I have a great feeling that we will catch up by the end of her leg.  Both swimmers are pounding it.  Penny does close the gap and over take the men.  This will be the last rotation that we will each have.

12:30-1:30pm: Michelle and Mark in the water.  Due to our boat troubles I was off the back end of the boat, my least favorite place to be.  I tried everything I could to mentally let it go.  I wasn’t winning that battle.  However, I could see the Men’s boat so I kept swimming with them.  However, after about 30 minutes I took a breath away from seeing the men’s boat and when I looked back they were gone.  (Note: I would find out later that the men’s boat caught a current that was going around Rangitira point.  Thus the shoot forward. )  It was a mentally crushing event.  I had lost the lead that Penny had worked so hard to get.  I was out of the water in tears.  Text message: 5th leg done.  Barb and Dougal in water.  Penny worked hard to get lead for girls and I turned around and lost it.  Getting close to finish.

1:30-2:30pm: Barb and Dougal in the water.  Dougal is turning his arms over faster than I have seen the whole trip.  Barb is working so hard.  We are maintaining position. 

2:30-3:30pm: Heather and Chris in the water.  These are the last swimmers.  It seems appropriate that the local New Zealander will be finishing the event for us.  The men finish ahead of the women.  For the finish, we all enter the water and swim in with our teammate.  Peter and Michael are on the shore with champagne.  Heather’s friend, Carol, has brought chocolate fish, which is apparently a tradition for Heather to have at the halfway point of a swim but we didn’t have them on the boat so we have them on the shore.  There are hugs all around and more than a few smiles.  I’m so happy to be part of this event.  Text Message: Finished a bit ago.  Men time: 33 hrs, 31 min, 15 seconds.  Women time: 33hrs, 33 min, 54 sec.  Basically it was just 2 minutes 39 seconds separating the teams.  We couldn’t have planned it that close.

After the swim, we all took a quick run across the parking lot back to the boats to unload.  We met with the local sports reporter of course we commented that this “wasn’t a race”, but the men seemed pretty happy by their win 🙂 

That evening after showers and a change of clothes, we met at a local restaurant to share boat stories and really just enjoy all of our successes.  It is here that I found out about the current, which made me feel a little better…but only a little.

What do we do on the boat?  Mostly we got into a routine on the women’s boat and it sounds like it was very similar on the men’s.  We would eat, rest, cheer and spot for our swimmers in the water, prepare for our leg and then swim.  We had some amazing cheerleaders on our team.  I think I hardly ever saw Heather below deck.  She could always be found on the bow of the boat cheering on the swimmer.  I think she perfected the silent clapping.  Lucy was usually cheering off the back part of the boat.  Overall the support from the team was amazing.  It was rare to be in the water and not see someone on the boat watching you in the water.  I think we all knew how important it was to have someone there going through your leg with you.  Plus it was always great to see the next swimmer start to get ready on the back of the boat and get the 5 minute warning.

Swim Route – I have no idea why the google picture isn’t showing. 

View Larger Map

Chris Palfrey’s account of the swim – This is super interesting to see the view of the swim from the Men’s boat.  Click on the link below.


Photos from the Shore by Peter and Michael

Photos from the Women’s Boat

Photos from the Men’s Boat

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New Zealand – Days before the swim

January 19, 2009

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. 

January 3rd

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.

January 4th

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.

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January 5, 2009

Both relay teams finished with remarkable times. Men 33hrs 31min 15 sec, women 33 hrs 33 mine 45 sec. Geat day for open water swimmers everwhere. The first time this crossing has been done three times by two relay teams. My hat is off the all swimmers. Each swimmer swam 6 hours at least. Nice way to begin the new year of  swimming.

Michelle will be posting her expereince regarding swim in the near future.

Posted by Michelle’s dad, Tom

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New Zealand Update

January 5, 2009

Michelle has completed 6th and her final leg, I think. THe relay teams are close to finishing. Both teams on final crossing. men in the lead, just a little. Penny had taken the lead for the women but the women could not hold it. Time is on the woman’s side. I think the women will prevail.

Posted by Michelle’s dad, Tom

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New update on New Zealand Swim

January 5, 2009

Michelle has completed her third and fourth leg. First night almost over. Lake has a light chop not bad. They are having boat trouble. Will keep people updated. So far so good. Michelle had supper after her fourth leg.

Updated by Michelle’s dad, Tom

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One Down Two to Go

January 4, 2009

The women’s relay with Heather swimming finished the first crossing. The women are 5 minutes behind the men. The first crossing in 10 hours and 35 minutes. GO GO GO

Posted by Michelle’s dad Tom

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