Ocean swimmer Brian Gray swam 55km around Waiheke on Saturday 25 March to raise funds for Starship Children’s hospital. The swim is equivalent to crossing the Cook Strait 2.5 times. He performed the endurance challenge under the international open water rules which state that only a cap, goggles, and standard togs must be worn during the swim. No wetsuit. No flippers. No touching a support boat. No headphones or watch. He is the first person to officially swim around the island non-stop and he did it in 13 hours and 44 minutes.
His feat followed a series of disappointing delays. He missed three weather windows because of Cyclone Gabrielle, then the swell that followed a week and a poor forecast forced him to cross off two further dates. Last Saturday was his fourth opportunity, with tides and weather stacking up. Brian says the conditions were perfect. He did a lot of analysis preparing for the challenge and knew he needed to start on a low tide to take advantage of the incoming tide around the eastern end of the island.
• Sarah Gloyer
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