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Cook Strait


Dan out on Cook Strait

For those who have not visited the website of late; Fit&Abel’s Dan Abel has grand plans of swimming Cook Strait this year. The support coming in has been terrific though not surprising. The global swimming fraternity are renowned for being such a fun, social and supportive bunch. The following is from Dan:

I have had loads of questions regarding the Cook Strait swim. Given that I am still waiting for suitable conditions for the swim I thought I would take time out to answer some of your questions…

Why are you doing this swim? Why not? It’s an age old adage but it’s applicable … because I can. Because I don’t want to get older and wonder could I have? Because I am a New Zealander therefore the Cook Strait is my ‘local’ swim. Because only 85 swimmers have officially made the swim to date. Because its rough, cold and tidal as anything, therefore a terrific challenge. It also happens to be one of the ‘Oceans Seven’, which is a list of seven global open water swims coined by open water legend Steven Munatones.

How far will you swim? It’s 26km straight line, swim distance on the day … it’s not quite a lottery but tides, fitness, swim pace will all impact on the total distance. Sure as eggs it’ll be further than 26km.

Who is helping you to swim the Cook Strait? Legendary NZ Open Water Swimmer Philip Rush has been helping swimmers successfully negotiate Cook Strait for decades. Philip was the first two way Cook Strait swimmer, holds the fastest three way English Channel swim 28hours 21 min (Wow!)  His knowledge and expertise are second to none when it comes to Cook Strait. http://www.cookstraitswim.org.nz/  Philip will have two boats out escorting me and we will have a total support crew of around 6 people. A not insignificant amount of logistics are involved.

When will you start? That is the million dollar question. For those of you with any marathon swim experience or who have friends who have swum a big one you will know it is simply not a matter of having a start date. To actually start a swim you need tides, weather and your team to all be on the mark and available at the same time. Every season that I have been in the UK there have been swimmers who have trained for years to swim the English Channel, they have had their swim window and pilot boat booked years in advance only to spend weeks on the shore waiting for decent weather. For some it’s not to be, if you don’t get good weather in your booked swim period you miss out. Such is open water swimming. I am very hopeful we’ll get a good window here in New Zealand for the Cook Strait but you never know, I too may miss out. That’s Open Water swimming for you – mother nature always maintains ultimate discretion on your start time.

What is the expected water temperature? It has been 18C this year but the air temperatures especially during the night time have been nudging down in single digits. Expected water temperate will most likely be around 15 – 16C.

Do you eat? Absolutely. I could be out there up to 12 hours. I will take on liquid and other energy foods every half hour. All the supplements and liquids I use on the day I have tested during my training to ensure they work as advertised and don’t upset my stomach and make me sick. Getting the right balance of energy and hydration and maintaining it throughout the swim is vital.

Can you get on the boat? Not until I make it to the other side. No touching the boat until the finish. It’s all about having a level playing field for all who undertake such swims.

Will you wear a wetsuit? No. 25 August 1875 Matthew Webb became the first person to swim the English Channel. He wore a swim suit, cap and goggles. In the spirit of this swim and once again to maintain an equal playing field a true blue marathon swim adheres to the same equipment list.

What about the sharks? … yes they’re out there … guess what? They live in the ocean. There is something justified and poetic about entering the water and suddenly NOT being the top of the food chain anymore. It gives one much more appreciation about the world and our real place in it. I feel sorry for those that don’t have this experience. Having said that do I get scared? yup, absolutely. I have a super active imagination too which doesn’t help. But I love the outdoors and nature … the biggest fear is fear itself. Sharks aren’t stupid I’m sure they know you’d need to soak me in a good marinade and cook me for a good 6 hours before I’d be anywhere near worth eating .  I am far more concerned about Jelly Fish than anything else.

Keep an eye on www.fitandabel.com and our social media Twitter @fitandabel  and fb page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fit-Abel/196225367082495 where I or one of my team will keep you updated on the Cook Strait adventure.

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