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Rotorua man conquers the Gibraltar Strait

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David Blackmore was proud to complete the Gibraltor Strait. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
David Blackmore was proud to complete the Gibraltor Strait. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Rotorua's David Blackmore can now lay claim to being one of the few New Zealanders to swim the Gibraltar Strait.

He's believed to be the fourth Kiwi to swim the 20km strait and despite feeling sore and tired, he said he was feeling proud after completing the swim on Friday (New Zealand time).

Before the swim, Mr Blackmore told the Rotorua Daily Post that he would be rapt if he could complete the swim in 4.5 to 5 hours.

David Blackmore swam the Gibraltar Strait with the Spanish sun on his back. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
David Blackmore swam the Gibraltar Strait with the Spanish sun on his back. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Now that he has done it in less time than he was aiming for he said it felt "awesome".

"It took 4 hours and 6 minutes - a time I was pleased with. It is hard to compare times for a swim like that as the conditions are so different each day.

"I started at about 8am local time with plenty of Spanish sun on my back - it was rough for about the first 2km and then towards the middle the conditions were okay.

"The flow of water coming into the strait from the Atlantic really causes some big rolling waves to contend with.

"The second half was a different story as the current really kicked in, and the water got progressively colder as I got towards Morocco which added an extra challenge."

He had two support boats with him and the crew picked out the best course on the day and scheduled food and drink stops along the way.

"My shoulders are really sore today and I'm pretty tired but I feel proud to have done it.

"You feel a long way from home out in the middle of the meeting of the Atlantic and Mediterranean oceans but, in amongst concentrating on swimming, I got a chance to think about all the good people who have supported and helped me along the way in preparing for this challenge.

"Special thanks to all the great people I have been lucky enough to swim alongside as part of Henk Greupink's masters swim squad, and to my family who have put up with me getting up early each morning to train and putting up with me falling asleep early in the couch at the end of each day!"

Mr Blackmore has been swimming with Mr Greupink's Masters swimming squad, which trains six days a week at the Aquatic Centre, for about four years.

"I've been specifically training for this swim for seven months. I have been doing things like the ocean swim series for the last three years which has given me something to train towards which is great.

"I have always loved swimming in open water.

"We used to go on family holidays and me and my brothers would spend hour after hour swimming at the beach.

"Also when I was a kid I specifically remember being in the car with my Mum and Dad travelling and we listened to radio reports of a Cook Strait crossing that was happening at the time - I think that planted the seed and a few years ago I thought of doing a long solo swim again.

"When I did my research I came across the Gibraltar swim and the thought of swimming from Europe to Africa seemed like a cool challenge.

"I learnt to swim as a kid - my mum had to bribe me with sweets to get me to hop in for the swimming lessons - I stopped at about 10-years-old and picked it back up again six or seven years ago as a way to get fit.

"In the last few months I have been swimming for longer each week - between 35 to 40kms a week with one swim of at least 10km each week in open water.

"The biggest challenges are strong currents (its where the Atlantic and the Mediterranean meet) and cold water (you don't wear a wetsuit)."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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