Hawera woman eyes strait swim

16:00, Nov 25 2012
tdn swim stand
Hawera’s Aletta Lovell is ready to swim the Cook Strait.

Twenty-six kilometres of freezing and choppy Cook Strait stands between Aletta Lovell and her goal of raising tens of thousands of dollars for Coastguard New Zealand.

The self-confessed Hawera "couch potato" will attempt the crossing in February to help hundreds of volunteers continue to save lives.

Mrs Lovell said she had wanted to swim the Strait since the 1980s but had never got the chance.

Then, after watching a documentary on rower Shaun Quincey's successfully row across the Tasman the idea was etched into her brain.

"I had to give it a go," she said.

"And if I'm going to do it why not do it for a charity."


After spending five years with the coastguard, the 40-year-old was only going to pick one.

A rigorous training regime outlined by swimming legend Donna Bouzaid, who made the crossing in 1985, had her on track, she said.

"I did a proper sea swim yesterday and it's the first time I've done that since I was 10 or 12 years old.

"I spend two hours in the water and felt amazing.

"I know I can do this."

Husband John who is also in the coastguard, has no doubts about her ability.

He said his wife had the "go-getter attitude" that would get her across the finish line.

"If you don't want it you don't get it.

"It's succeed at all costs."

But for all her effort she still needs Taranaki's help to make her dream come true.

Her national fundraising campaign begins today with the launch of an online Charity Trade Me auction.

While those who want to donate directly can call 0900 SO SOS to make an automatic $25 donation or visit Hawera's ASB Bank.

Mrs Lovell was also part of the Coastguard South Taranaki team who pulled two fishermen from the sea off Pihama in February.

Battling pitch-black conditions, 45-knot winds and two-metre swells, the team plucked the men from the sea after their 4.8m aluminium boat's engine cut out.

The rescue was recognised as the best in the country during the organisation's national awards earlier this year.

In 2005, New Plymouth women Tania Hockings and Cara Sibtsen conquered Cook Strait together in less than six hours.

The pair, who were both 17 years old at the time, did it in 5 hours and 48 minutes and became the first duo to do it.

So far 54 people have successfully swum Cook Strait since Barry Davenport made the first crossing in 1962.

Taranaki Daily News