Freedom swimmers take on North Head

A record number of ‘birthday suit’ swimmers joined the epic Round North Head Classic on Saturday.

The annual open water swim event, run by Devonport Swim Club, is a firm fixture among peninsula swimmers and open water competitors from around Auckland.

At around 9.30am 25 swimmers made their way to a floating IRB anchored just of Windsor Reserve Beach, where they ‘de-togged’ and passed their kit to the crew who stored it in numbered bags. The boat then took off to wait just in front of Cheltenham Beach, ready to meet the swimmers before they swam the last 100 metres and ran to the finish line.

In all there were 200 swimmers on the day, most swimming the 2.5km from Windsor Reserve Beach around North Head to Cheltenham Beach. Some chose the alternative, shorter 1.3km course that started from Torpedo Bay.

Conditions were near perfect, with the sun shining, a water temperature of just over 18 degrees, and a slight tail wind. The outgoing tide gave all swimmers some extra acceleration, whipping the fastest swimmers home in just over 24 minutes. The event attracts a loyal following, and all enjoy the hot bacon and egg pie and plentiful spot prizes in Balmain Reserve. The club also puts on the annual Cheltenham Swim, which covers 2.4k from Narrow Neck Beach to Cheltenham Beach. March 9th is the date for the next event.

Round North Head swimmers

Round North Head Swim 2018

Iconic ocean swim event enjoys support from local businesses

A dozen local businesses donated prizes for the the annual Cheltenham Swim, an annual fixture in the calendar of ocean swimmers across the peninsula and from outside Auckland.

The 2.1km swim is run by the Devonport Swim Club which operates from the navy pool at HMNZS Philomel on Queen’s Parade.

Around 150 swimmers set off on the starter horn at 9.30 am on Saturday morning, 5th May, from Narrow Neck beach. Aided by the current, the quickest swimmers were out of the water and bounding up Balmain Reserve on Cheltenham Beach in less than 22 minutes.

The annual Cheltenham Swim and the Round North Head Classic swim, held in November, have established a reputation over the years as being very well organised, and particularly friendly events, with little of the aggressive jostling often seen at larger ocean swim meets. This is also to do with the mix of entrants, which include many local swimmers out to enjoy a scenic swim around the coast.

Sponsors this year included Baked Devonport, Vondel restaurant, Skin Sense, Makoto Japanese restaurant, Cosi fan tutte, The Vic Cinema , 2 degrees mobile, Glengarry Wine, Just Workout Devonport, Riba Fish n Chips, Corelli’s Café, the gift shop Nord and Devonport Hammer Hardware, who also put on a mobile warm shower.

Devonport Swim Club had been running at half steam for the past two years while the navy pool had a complete upgrade and the steep bank directly behind it secured.

Regular swim squads have only been able to run sporadically over the period as the club has had to rent lanes from Takapuna Primary School and Takapuna Grammar School. Unfortunately, the TGS pool is only swimmable in February and March as it is unheated and exposed to winds.

However with the navy pool recently open again, swim squads have filled up quickly. The junior squads were at capacity within a week of the club’s relaunch.

The Cheltenham Swim a big success

With the weather forecast looking a little scary a week out, the organisers of The 2017 Cheltenham Swim – the Devonport Swim Club – were not expecting a huge number of sign-ups.

The annual 2km swim event starts at Narrow Neck beach and finishes at Balmain Reserve, Cheltenham Beach.

However the peninsula’s local swimmers were not at all perturbed with fickle forecasts and turned up in droves on the day (Sunday 2nd April) with wetsuits, goggles and smiles. Some of the 144 entrants included hardy ‘Buckets Club’ members who swim weekly off Narrow Neck all year round through winter, storms and gales. This was their Sunday Stroll.

Although the sun didn’t feature much on the day, there was only a gentle north-easterly breeze – nice for supporters on a very humid day – and the rain patiently held off.

A pleasant surprise awaited swimmers rounding the first buoy as they turned south towards North Head: the incoming tide was unusually strong and whipped them around to Cheltenham in record time.

The overall winner was Devonport Swim Club coach Ben Marshall in a whisker over 20 minutes (20:09). First female across the line was another DSC member Dawn Dooley in  23:12. In the under 15’s, the first junior girl home was Isabella Webb in 29:32; and Jake Scott took the junior male’s no.1 spot in 23:09.

The donation of excellent prizes from local businesses (including Hammer Hardware, New World Supermarket Devonport, Devon on the Wharf, Corellis Cafe, Chateaubriant, Glengarry Wines, The Vic, Dixie Browns restaurant, JustWorkout Gym, The Natural Health Co and Baked Devonport) made the prize-giving almost as much fun as the race.