Club to mark 50 years since Foveaux swim

The Oreti Surf Lifesaving Club will celebrate the 50th anniversary of John van Leeuwen's first swim crossing of Foveaux Strait on February 9.

The club will swim a relay from Stewart Island to the mainland, followed by a dinner that night.

The club previously swam a relay across the chilly waters of the strait to raise funds for the construction of Splash Palace.

Van Leeuwen, of Invercargill, a 28-year-old meat trimmer at the time, completed his crossing in a marathon 13hr 36min and was driven around Invercargill in an open-top car as part of the celebrations. Since then only five others have completed the feat.

Anyone interested in attending the 50-year celebrations should contact John Fogarty.

Foveaux Strait swim crossings: John van

Leeuwen, February 7, 1963 (13hr 36min); Meda McKenzie, March 20, 1979 (14:00); Belinda Shields, March 24, 1984 (9:53); Michael Quinlivan, February 13, 1985 (9:41); Sandra Blewett, February 11, 1988 (12:5); Todd Utteridge, February 15, 1989 (8:40).

The Southland Times