Kaye Mueller says ocean swimming is calming for the mind and great exercise for all ages.
Kaye Mueller, of Leigh, used to have panic attacks when she swam too far from shore, but now she is training for a competitive event and helping others to learn to swim in the ocean.
When Kaye began swimming around seven years ago, she was fearful of open water, but now it’s her “happy place”.
“There’s something that happens when you’re in the water. It’s a release of happy brain chemicals, which I call ‘endolphins’,” she says.
Kaye recently began hosting free ocean swimming lessons at Mathesons Bay on Friday mornings to help swimmers build their confidence in open water.
The Leigh Swimmers group has about 20 regulars ranging from a 90-year-old to a group of young mums. Kaye herself will be 60 next year.
She says the safety of Mathesons Bay provides a perfect place for an introduction to ocean swimming.
Slowly but surely swimmers are coaxed further out to sea as they grow in confidence.
Kaye also offers yoga classes before her swim classes, which she calls ‘yogi fish.’
“It’s about controlling your breathing, feeling the senses and noticing the salt in the water.”
She says yoga breath work is a perfect pairing for swimmers and divers, allowing divers to hold their breath underwater for longer. It also helps prevent hyperventilation and panic attacks in the water.
“These skills translate into real life for whenever you are jumping in the deep end,” she says.
Kaye is getting ready for the Ocean Swim Series and will compete in four of the events.
Her first event will be a 3.8km swim at Takapuna Beach, followed by a swim to Bean Rock at Mission Bay, swimming the length of the Harbour Bridge and swimming Blue Lake in Rotorua.
Last week she went for a 3.6km swim, from Daniel’s Reef to Mathesons Bay, in preparation. For her, it is less about competitive swimming and more about sightseeing.
“I will be at the back with the conversational swimmers,” she says.