Swimmers brave icy waters for midwinter dip

Around 60 hardy souls braved chilly waters to participate in the Leigh Mid-Winter Swim at Matheson Bay on June 17.

Among them was Averil Lovegrove, 89, who was one of the last to emerge from the water following the plunge, but still managed to keep smiling.

Averil said she did not particularly like the cold, but took comfort by assuring herself that the experience would not last for long.

She has been a regular at the event for several years and was delighted to see many more children than usual participate this year.

“It’s much better to see them here than to see them busying themselves with iPhones and electronic devices,” she said as she waded to shore.

Averil put her enthusiasm for the event, despite her advanced age, down to her genes. A cousin around the same age recently completed a 10km walk in Rotorua. 

Heading into the water.

Rodney Local Board member Allison Roe enjoys her first midwinter swim.

Rodney Local Board member Allison Roe also participated, saying that it was the first time she had attempted a midwinter swim.

“It’s a little uncomfortable, but it’s a great event in one of the most stunning bays,” she said.

Organiser Jan Scott, who is secretary of the Leigh Business Community group, said numbers at the event appeared to be growing every year. Last year, there were just over 40 participants.

She said the idea was to encourage people to get together in winter, have fun and give them a challenge.  

She said the sunny weather this year was the best yet.