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Epic swim to raise cash for orphan charity



3 MF-Sailrock swim 2018-388Mangawhai’s coastline waters will again become the scene for a challenging, epic swim by two determined local swimmers, and with every stroke, kick and intake of breath it will raise vital cash for children once orphaned by deep water. 

On a mission to support the Hands Across the Water charity – initially established to help the thousands of orphaned Thai children after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami swept their families away – Simon Bennett is planning to swim from the Hen and Chicken Islands (Taranga and Marotere Islands) to Mangawhai’s coastline, a daunting distance of 26.4 kilometres. 

With the Island Swim scheduled for late January-early February 2019, Simon, co-owner of Astute NZ, says the event has multiple benefits. He gets to support friend and swimming partner, Mangawhai osteopath Jacquelyn Schirmer, who has taken on the formidable challenge of swimming the Cook Strait in 2020, as well as ‘feeling great‘ to having a ‘personal why’. 

“Hands Across the Water has become my ‘why’. My aim is to get 400 people to donate $1 per kilometre of this swim, a donation of $25 per person,” he says. “Jacquelyn is a strong and determined woman who could do her ocean swims on her own, but it is a lot less lonely with someone else there… I feel gratitude in being part of her journey… to help others and also on the way, help myself.”

Simon says the Island Swim is a ‘serious undertaking’, set to take between nine and 12 hours depending on currents and conditions, and is the second challenge the dynamic aqua-duo have faced together. Last January the pair succeeded in a six hour, 11-plus kilometre swim from Sail Rock to Mangawhai surf beach. With this year’s swim being more than double the distance and hours, the pair have been training since August, clocking up long hours, kilometres and counting strokes, in swims around local coastlines. 

“We estimate that based on a thousand strokes per kilometre, and 3.5 to 4kph, we have likely swam between 340 and 360 kilometres, with 340-360,000 strokes and spent the equivalent of three 40 hour weeks in the water, just getting to the start line!”

Simon and wife Megan have also committed themselves to help raise money for Hands Across the Water via land, signing up to a five day, 500km bike ride through Thailand in March. 

“There is also a commitment to raise $10,000 for the charity, which runs nine orphanages in Thailand, continuing to help, house and educate children and families who are still suffering the effects of that tragic day.”

Posts of the pairs training swim and progress are available for viewing on the Island Swim Facebook page.

“We would love you to follow our journey. There are no guarantees that we will make the 26.4 kilometres on the day, only the commitment that we will do everything we can to get to the start line in the best shape we can.”

 Interested in sponsoring Simon and Jacquelyn? Visit Island Swim @islandswim2019 and handsgroup.org.au for more information.

Jacquelyn Schirmer and Simon Bennett pictured after their six hour swim last January. The pair are together again with an impressive new challenge.

“We estimate that we have likely swam between 340 and 360 kilometres… and spent the equivalent of three 40 hour weeks in the water, just getting to the start line!”
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