Philippa Wrenn had a valid excuse for missing her Capital Choir's Christmas concert on Tuesday night.
The 26-year-old Wellington gas engineer was otherwise engaged, swimming the Cook Strait in a south to north direction.
Wrenn became around the 90th person to complete the crossing when she touched a rock south of Ohau Point in 8hr 42min.
"I'm stoked with the time," Wrenn said yesterday.
"I was always going to be happy just to make it and even 10 hours would have been good.
"The weather chopped up pretty bad after four hours. It was gorgeous up to that point, in fact at four hours I said to Phil [guide Phillip Rush] 'this beats a day at work'. But then I got really sore in the shoulders and it chopped up and it was horrendous for the last four hours."
Wrenn was told at 9pm on Monday night that she would swim south-north because of the weather patterns. She was ferried across in a launch on Tuesday morning and then set about swimming back to Ohau Point.
"I grabbed on to a rock and said "yip" and then jumped back into a boat and it was two hours back home.
"I have no idea where I touched [Cape Terawhiti] , it seemed the middle of nowhere. I was aiming for Ohau Point, but I came into there with an hour to go but was carried six knots sideways. I ended up a lot [further] south."
The crossing exhausted her. Wrenn's "pasty white skin" is badly sunburnt in places but the sense of satisfaction over-rides the temporary discomfort.
The former Waipukurau lifeguard paid $6000 for the experience but feels it was money well spent.
She said Rush's expertise was crucial as was the support of her partner William and her coach Ali Dennis.
Did she find herself mixing singing with swimming in the middle of the Strait?
"You can't sing because you'll get water in your month.
"But there are songs going around in your head, mainly the Finding Nemo one - 'keep swimming, keep swimming'.
"I was amazed how little I thought out there. Phil is always in your ear so I was just in the zone."
- The Dominion Post
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