Big crowd expected for chilly dip

BRACING: Swimmers plunge into the surf at the Kaiteriteri Midwinter Swim last year.
BRACING: Swimmers plunge into the surf at the Kaiteriteri Midwinter Swim last year.

As the shortest day of the year approaches, it is time to dig out the bathing suits for the annual Kaiteriteri Midwinter Swim.

The brave, the foolhardy and the goosepimply will dash into the sea at 12.30pm this Sunday and if previous years are a guide, more people will be cheering them on from the beach than will join them in the water. Last year about 50 people took the plunge, although participation has reached triple digits some years.

Organiser Andrea Tomlinson said the forecast is for a fine weekend, so she was hoping for record crowds to test themselves in Tasman Bay. She said that children liked to challenge themselves by getting in, although the truth was that the event had experienced such a long run of fine weather that the plunge would have to rank as one of the mildest midwinter swims in the country.

Motueka's streak of midwinter mildness was broken last year, when a brutal sea on the original date postponed the event by two weeks, the first time that had happened. Despite the fine forecast, Tomlinson has set June 29 as this year's postponement date, just in case.

The swim serves as the centrepiece of what has become a seaside fair that is the main fundraiser for Riwaka School. At 11.30am, there will be an Englefield duck race, with lots of great prizes for the sponsors of the winning ducks.

There will be the traditional costume competition for swimmers and rides, fun activities for children and lots of delicious hot food available to warm both swimmers and the audience, said Tomlinson.