Swimming: Heather overcomes the agony

By Peter White


The second State Harbour Crossing of the summer series held at Auckland's Viaduct Harbour featured some impressive and courageous performances from Western Bay swimmers.

Among the record crowd of 1500 swimmers taking the plunge over the 2.9km distance was a Katikati woman who had overcome more obstacles than most to cross the finish line.

Heather Osborne was noticeable by the splint bandage on her ankle as she made her way smiling across the finish line at Auckland's Viaduct Harbour.

She had injured her ankle in a previous swimming event two years ago, resulting in a trapped nerve and considerable pain.

Her local physio strapped up Heather's ankle to enable her to take part in the harbour crossing.

"You just need to suck it up and keep going," said the plucky 49-year-old, who was not going to let a dodgy ankle stop her from taking part in the iconic swim.

"I just love ocean swimming and I have been doing it for quite a huge number of years, and I just happened to be up in Auckland with a couple of friends and we decided to do it.

"I had spent the last fortnight, three times a week at physio trying to get my ankle swelling down and back into shape. What happens is the nerve gets trapped in the back of my heel and that is why I wear the splint.

"Sunday's swim was quite choppy so I did get knocked around quite a bit but you just have to keep going. If you are passionate about doing something, then you don't let little things get in the way."

What makes Osborne's effort even more remarkable is not just her ankle injury or that she swam in the cold water without a wetsuit, but she also suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands, which means she has little feeling after about a kilometre in the water.

"I just get on with life and I love the water and I love my swimming. I ended up getting placed in the wetsuit and non-wetsuit categories so I was pretty pleased."

Heather was joined by friend, Pam Dickson also from Tauranga, who is training for the English Channel crossing in August 2013.

Scott Rice, State NZ Ocean Swim Series event director says: "All of the 1500 swimmers who braved the choppy conditions today on Auckland Harbour deserve applause, including Heather and, of course, Pam, who gave it their all."

Mount Maunganui's Hayley Borkin won the female 30-34 age group with a time of 52:59.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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