British woman swims Cook Strait

A children's swimming coach has become the first British woman to swim Cook Strait.

Londoner Emily Morris, 27, took just under 10 hours to make the crossing on March 9, one of only 67 people to have completed the 25km swim.

“I was very apprehensive and had lots of dreams about great white sharks for a whole year before,” Ms Morris told London's Evening Standard newspaper.

“I couldn't stop or I would have been taken off course, so I just had to go for it and luckily I was all right.”

Ms Morris started training for the challenge two years ago.

Five years ago she went on a swim trek holiday and fell in love with open-water swimming. She swam the English Channel in 2006, then set herself the challenge of Cook Strait.

“I realised that no British woman had ever swum it before,” she said.

She spent the northern hemisphere winter training with a swimming club three times a week and the summer swimming in Dover harbour to acclimatise to sea water.

She then flew out to New Zealand seven weeks ago to train off the coast of Wellington.

“The first hour was really nice with quite calm weather. Then the sea just soared up and the wind reached 17 knots and it remained like that until the last hour of my swim,” she said.

“For one hour, I did not move anywhere and they were thinking of pulling me out…but suddenly I got caught on a tide and it was just go, go, go.”

Ms Morris completed the swim in nine hours and 58 minutes.

“One wave hit me and I looked round to make sure it was not a shark.

My imagination was turning waves into fins,” she said.

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