McKibbin's challenging swim for Flaxmere trust

By Roger Moroney

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Craig McKibbin with the supply raft he will tow around Lake Waikaremoana during his fundraising swim.
Craig McKibbin with the supply raft he will tow around Lake Waikaremoana during his fundraising swim.

Like his late brother Glenn, Craig McKibbin is set to do his bit for the Flaxmere community.

Flaxmere Police Community Constable Glenn McKibbin was shot and killed while on duty just over 20 years ago, and while Craig had been planning an adventurous and ambitious swimming marathon around the 85km perimeter of Lake Waikaremoana for about a year it was not until he returned to Flaxmere back in April for the 20-year memorial of his brother's death that he found the fundraising target he was looking for.

"Henare O'Keefe came and introduced himself to me and we got talking - I hadn't met him before but knew about him."

Mr O'Keefe talked about his devotion to the A-Turn Trust in Flaxmere and Mr McKibbin later looked into it.

"I saw it as the perfect organisation for me to support with this swim."

He also saw it as a fitting way to pay tribute to his late brother.

"It has been 20 years now so it's a good way to recognise that."

Like Glenn, he also wanted to do his bit for the Flaxmere community.

Now based in Hamilton, Mr McKibbin said he would be keeping in regular touch with Mr O'Keefe and would be heading back down to the Bay in the near future to show him the unique "supply raft" he will tow behind him during his totally unassisted swim which he plans to carry out over 10 days early in February next year.

"Yes, I'll be taking all my food and camping gear on it."

As a tribute to Glenn he is naming the raft D717 - which was his police number.

Mr McKibbin, 39, said his years of Iron Man competition had set him up physically, although after he got married "and the kids came along" that pursuit "sort of went by the wayside".

His wife Debbie spurred him to get back into taking on a challenge.

"She said I should have a go at something," Mr McKibbin said, adding that he took a close look at what marathon swimmer Peter Cook had embarked upon about five years ago.

He swam around the perimeter of Lake Taupo.

But as that had been done Mr McKibbin looked closer to the region he grew up in.

"And Lake Waikaremoana meant a lot more to me - the family used to holiday there and I went there with the scouts - I also worked up there when I was with the Department of Conservation."

So the planning, and the training, began and he has set rules for himself.

He will swim about 200m offshore because as the lakeshore was convoluted that meant he would not take shortcuts.

He is planning on completing 10km to 12km a day, and at the end of the day's swimming will go ashore, with his raft of supplies, and set up camp for the night.

One of his sponsors, Back Country Cuisine, will be providing the freeze-dried food he will need.

"I'll boil the water, drop the food in and dinner will be sorted," he said.

He will be using the twin-hulled polystyrene supply raft Mr Cook designed and built, and is lending to him for his swim.

"In the next couple of weeks I will get the raft in the water - I've been using a small parachute during training to get a feel for the drag created."

He is presently doing 5km before work three days a week but is planning to begin stepping that up in the next few weeks.

Opus, who he works for, is providing a satellite phone so he can stay in daily contact with his family who will be staying at a back in Onepoto.

Fastlane Fitness, Speedy Signs and Taupo PLB Hire had also stepped in as sponsors.

He has received the blessing and permission of the Te Urewera Board to use the lake for his personal challenge and fundraising venture for the U-Turn Trust and has set up link to the Givealittle site for donations.

It is https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/lakewaikaremoanachallenge2017.

Along with brother Scott who will head across from Australia, his mother Margaret who lives in Napier said she would also head to the lake for her son's challenge.

"But I'm going up there to do some fishing," she said with a laugh.

"He sets himself goals, always has," she said.

"It's good - we have to set ourselves challenges."

Mr McKibbin said the swim was doable and he would be up for it physically without a doubt.

"It's the mental side of it which will be more challenging."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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