Self-described ''have a go'' open water swimmer Roger North
is not ruling out a second attempt at the first solo swim of
the length of Lake Wanaka after coming close to completing
the feat this week.
The Wanaka local managed about 35km of the 45km swim, before
cold got the better of him.
Nearly 14 hours after setting out from the head of the lake
at Makarora around 6.30am on Tuesday, Mr North (47) was
forced to call it quits on his huge personal challenge, for
which he had clocked up 1400km of swim training over the past
''I could see the lights of part of Wanaka in the distance
... [but] it was dark, there was a headwind and I got too
An ''unexpected current'' he discovered well into the swim
also slowed his pace.
''All the factors were conspiring against me and I made the
Although weather conditions were ''quite warm and friendly''
for a large part of the day, the water temperature did not
rise above 14.5degC and caused his jaw and hands to lock
''I could only kind of blur words out. My jaw was superglued
... my neoprene gloves were like hand weights for about
Mr North is a member of the Wanaka Lake Swimmers Club and has
completed Challenge Wanaka's 3.8km swim leg six times. He
worked with a swim coach and nutritionist in the build-up to
Tuesday's event - which was ''such a natural thing to try and
achieve when the lake's staring you in the face every day of
the year'', he said.
''In response to the millionth mid-life crisis, I decided to
give it a crack.''
He was humbled by the ''scores'' of supporters who fed him at
regular intervals, monitored his progress and cheered him on,
from boats, kayaks, paddle boards and while swimming in the
water alongside him.
''I'd have a list as long as my arm to thank over the next
couple of days ... it felt like half the town was out, only
[for me] to fail - but they don't see it that way.
''I gave it everything I've got. I've done more than the Cook
Strait now and more than the English Channel.''
Despite feeling ''really good'' yesterday and up to another
swim, he was unsure whether the 45km distance would beckon
''The actual event was fun but the anxiety leading up to it
and becoming one-dimensional for the last couple of months
... part of me really wants to knock it off, but the jury's
New Zealand's longest lake swim was in February 2012 when a
hypothermic Ben Campbell-MacDonald, of Wellington, swam the
80km length of Lake Wakatipu.