The demanding 20km Westpac Chopper Swim from Waiheke Island to Auckland’s Mechanics Bay took place on Monday 18 March and was the most successful to date. 

Swim founder and organiser Olaf Adam prefers participants fundraise for the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust rather than paying an entry fee to take part, and a whopping $146,000 was raised. A total of 102 swimmers participated including 34 open water solo swimmers and 68 team participants. These swimmers were supported entirely by volunteer kayakers and boaties led by Brad Butterworth. 

Swim participants included ex-All Black rugby players Sir John Kirwan and Ian Jones, triathlete and swimmer Rick Wells, the youngest female to swim the length of Lake Taupo and the Cook Strait Caitlin O’Reilly, and Cook Strait swimmer Jono Ridler. 

Rick Wells and teammate David Mitchell, who required a Westpac rescue helicopter seven years ago when he was catapulted out of a tree on Waiheke, raised a phenomenal $24,000. 

Although considered a challenge event rather than a race, Stu Penman was the first solo swimmer to cross the finish line in four hours and 30 minutes, closely followed by the all-female swim team “The Workshop” with a time of four hours and 36 minutes. Waiheke accounts for almost a third of all Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter missions every year.

Organisers and the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust extend a big thank you to all those involved and who supported the event. Donations can still be made at •

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