Marathon swimmer Marty Filipowski nabs the 100th crossing of Cook Strait
An American swimmer has made history, notching up the 100th crossing of the notoriously difficult Cook Strait
"Dead calm" conditions saw Sydney-based Marty Filipowski, 53, complete the marathon north to south swim in just over nine hours.
He touched land north of Perano Head, on Arapawa Island, north-east of the Tory Channel entrance, about 6pm on Sunday night.
Despite understandable exhaustion, Filipowski said he was "absolutely over the moon" at his latest open water achievement.
"Every swim is different and you prepare for the worst but today was just a beautiful day on the water."
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Filipowski only discovered his ability to swim long distances in 2011 but took to it quickly, swimming the English Channel in 2013 before setting his sights on several other marathon races.
He made the decision to tackle the Cook Strait crossing more than a year ago, not knowing he could be achieving a milestone.
"When I booked in to do the crossing I never thought I would be the 100th so it was a bit of a surprise."
Philip Rush, a Cook Strait swim veteran, was on the support boat and said the crossing had looked to be in the bag all day with no real challenges along the way.
"The water is oily and it's been like this basically the whole time. There was a little bit of fog and rain first thing but it opened up and it was here for the taking."
However, while the water was flat, Rush said Filipowski did have to deal with some playful wildlife along the way.
"We had a couple seals having a nosy and thinking they might get a munch but we got rid of them."
The first recorded successful crossing of Cook Strait was by Kiwi Barry Devonport in 1962. Since then only 89 others have achieved the feat in either or both directions.
Rush said the low success rate came down to the strait's changeable conditions, as well as the distance - 26km.
"Since I've been involved I reckon there have been about 500 people attempt it so this is a huge achievement for Marty.
"People don't realise how difficult it is. It's probably one of the hardest pieces of water in the world to swim, hence why we don't have a huge success rate."
Rush, who has completed the crossing eight times, said he would have liked to have nabbed the 100th crossing title, but was just as happy to help a fellow swimmer achieve the goal.
"Every swim is different and every swimmer is different but I still get a buzz every time we come into the finish."