Wanaka long-distance swimmer Camille Gulick is keen to bag Foveaux Strait this week, even if all she gets are scrabble swim points for her swimming club.
Ms Gulick (34) has been training for the 28.6km marathon swim for a year, after crewing for Auckland swimmer Jono Ridler’s record-breaking Foveaux Strait swim in 2021.
Earlier this week, the weather forecast was not great.
“It is a great scrabble score, even if I don’t do it,” she joked.
Every year for the last three years, the Wanaka Lake Swimmers Club and the Southern Lakes Swimming Club have competed in a social challenge for a trophy.
This year, swimmers win scrabble points for 15-minute swims in water bodies named in blue on the topographical map of New Zealand.
Thousands of points have been amassed since January 1 but the winning club will not be announced until all members log their swims by March 31.
Southern Lakes swimmer Liana Smith was also planning to add Foveaux Strait (26 scrabble points) to her club’s score this week.
Whatever the weather this weekend, Ms Gulick wanted the points and to test her bright new pink swim cap.
She has a second chance in March but hopes to swim anytime from today to Sunday.
“It is good to have something like this to do when everything else has been cancelled [because of Covid].
“It is one-off, one of those unique things. Everyone has to have something that motivates them,” she said.
Ms Gulick’s journey began about three years ago when she was chatting with Wanaka swim coach Belinda Donaldson (nee Shields) about Mrs Donaldson’s successful strait crossing from the South Island to Stewart Island in 1984, aged 22.
Ms Gulick then met long-distance swimmer Jono Ridler, of Auckland, who shared his own Foveaux Strait plans.
In February 2020, Ms Gulick completed the 20km Rottnest Island swim in Australia.
In February last year, Mr Ridler invited Ms Gulick to join his support crew for what would become a record-breaking 7hr 52min swim from Stewart Island to the mainland.
“With not long to go, he looked up and pointed at me and said, water?’ And I was
“I got in for the last 1.5km . . . I remember thinking, I am not going to waste this opportunity. I have to at least give it a shot,” Ms Gulick said.
Her experience with anxiety during her buildup was “not to be understated,” she said.
“For me, the biggest thing has been mental. That is normal and natural for everyone but I have also been having anxiety and depression.
“That has been a really big thing to overcome.
“I have had days thinking, why am I doing this? I am not an elite athlete. But I want this part of my story represented.
“I just want to get to the point where starting the swim is a win,” she said.
She also wanted to acknowledge her partner Luke Yates.
“He’s the one closest to me, seen all my ups and downs. But he has never wavered in his belief I can do this,” she said.
Ms Gulick will start at Saddle Point on Stewart Island.
“Too bad I don’t start at Christmas Village Bay. That would be good scrabble points .
“The finish point depends on the currents and tides, somewhere near Bluff,” she said.
Shangri La boat captain Rewi Bull and Oreti Surf Live Saving Club members will manage the crossing.
A Wanaka support team of Mr Yates, Sally McMath (coach), Anna Kate Hutter (swimmer), and Tom Christie (photographer) will be on board, along with official Marathon Swimmers Federation observer John Scobie, of Blenheim.
Ms Gulick will swim in togs, according to federation rules.