Watersports

Kenzie’s Gift Winter Swimming Challenge tours the South Island

WHAT: Winter swimming at 12 locations on the South Island to benefit the charity Kenzie’s Gift

WHEN: from Friday 20 August to Tuesday 31 August

TIME: Individual swimming times are detailed on the site here

WHERE: Individual swimming spots are detailed on the website here

WHO: Kenzie’s Gift, a charity to support the mental health of children, young people and their families affected by cancer, serious illness or bereavement

The icy waters of Lake Tekapo, Lake Whakatipu and Lake Wanaka are just a few of the spectacular spots in the South Island where Nic Russell, founder of Kenzie’s Gift, and local winter swimmers will dive for charity for 12 days from August 20 to 31.

Kenzie’s Gift is a charity founded by Nic 15 years ago to support the mental health of children, young people and their families affected by cancer, serious illness or bereavement.
She is a cancer survivor and bereaved māmā who lives with Parkinson’s disease and a degenerative heart condition, cardiomyopathy.

Nic launched the Winter Swim Challenge as a fundraising initiative last year, swimming every day for 30 days in a row in winter at the beaches around Devonport, where she lives. After a great freshman run, she decided to expand the Winter Swim Challenge to include a tour of the South Island for the last 12 days of August.

Nic will be supported on the tour by a group of swimmers from Devonport, and will be joined at each location by local winter swimming groups and special guests. Their last swim will be at Lake Wanaka at sunrise on Tuesday, August 31.

JUCY Rentals is sponsoring Nic with a rental car for the duration of his South Island tour, while accommodation in Queenstown will be provided by JUCY Snooze Queenstown and special advice on all things Milford Sound by JUCY Cruise.

Nic says she sometimes struggles physically with swimming, but the benefits of cold water swimming far outweigh the challenges.

“Cold winter swimming is so good for you and your mental and physical health,” Nic said. “Mentally, it’s great for helping you deal with stress better. It floods your body with endorphins, giving you a natural high, brightening your mood, and helping ward off depression.

“Physically, it boosts your immune system, improves your circulation and can even lower your blood pressure.

“Socially, there’s nothing quite like bonding with a group of buddies over a shared cold water experience (and post-swim coffee!).

“I love it,” Nic said. “And it’s so satisfying to know that our efforts will help support the mental health of young Kiwis facing some of life’s toughest challenges.”

Swimming dates and times:

  • Friday, August 20: Cass Bay, 11 a.m.
  • Saturday August 21: Taylor’s Mistake Beach 1 p.m.
  • Sunday August 22: Lake Tekapo 3 p.m.
  • Monday, August 23: Lake Alexandrina 3 p.m.
  • Tuesday August 24: Lake Pukaki 3pm (check the WSC Facebook page for updates)
  • Wednesday, August 25: Moke Lake 12 p.m.
  • Thursday August 26: Lake Wakatipu, Kelvin Grove 2 p.m.
  • Friday August 27: Milford Sound
  • Saturday August 28: Te Anau 10:30 a.m.
  • Sunday August 29: Lake Hawea
  • Monday August 30: Haast Pass
  • Tuesday, August 31: Lake Wanaka (last swim at sunrise)

A list of local swimmers and special guests will be published before each swim

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