Big swim goal setting strait-forward

Pupils paddling their way to goals

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 20/05/2014
Swim
MURRAY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ

SWIM BUNNIES: A group of Bunnythorpe Year 7 students are trying to swim the Cook Strait collectively - well the distance of it in a pool, including Sophie McIlhatton, centre.

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A group of Manawatu school pupils are paddling their way through a mammoth swim, covering the distance of Cook Strait in class.

Bunnythorpe School's year 7 and 8 pupils are aiming to swim the distance of the 22-kilometre strait in a month, using Freyberg Community Pool.

Sophie McIlhatton, 11, was inspired to take on the task after her teacher talked to her class about setting and achieving goals.

She researched swimmers who have finished the feat, figured out how long it took them - an average of 10 hours - and set about convincing her classmates to take part.

Now the school's seven senior students - five year 7s and two year 8s - are bused to Freyberg twice a week to train, and a tally of the students' individual efforts is kept.

Sophie estimated the swim would take about a month, with two one-hour pool sessions a week.

But during the first session students swam 228 lengths of the 25-metre pool, which worked out to be about 5.6km. Sophie said she knew her classmates could do better, so the goal has been reset to swim 44km in the four-week time slot. "I learned to swim when I was about 8 and I've loved swimming ever since," she said.

"I was really interested in the Cook Strait and all the people that have swum it and thought we could do something like that too. It's really fun, even though sometimes getting the breathing right has been hard.

"This is an awesome thing to be doing and I think that all children should have the opportunity to complete a goal that they have set for themselves."

Principal Doug Drysdale said the challenge taught pupils about fitness as well the perseverance needed to complete such goals.

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- Manawatu Standard

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