Water and electricity don't usually go together. But try telling that to Wairakei Power Station worker Alan Mudie.

Mudie, from Ngakuru, won the 6km men's race at the 35th annual Lake Rotoma Kiwanis Open Water Swim event yesterday.

He said he enjoyed the relaxed environment yesterday and just wanted to get out and enjoy himself.

"There is a good community of open water swimmers out here. It is more your grown-ups rather than the young skinny guys you can't keep up with," he said with a laugh.


It was the first time he has taken part in the event on Lake Rotoma, between Whakatane and Rotorua.

Mudie was one of about 150 swimmers taking part in the Lake Rotoma Swim event yesterday which included distances from 100m right up to 10km.

Meanwhile, the winner of the women's 6km race, one of the premier races at the event, was Hamilton's Rebecca Ferbuyt.

Ferbuyt recently moved to New Zealand from England and heard about the Lake Rotoma Swim event through the Famously Rotorua Swim the Lakes Summer Series.

"I usually come second or third so first was good for a change," she said after winning the 6km race.

Ferbuyt explained in a lot of open water races you would be knocking into other swimmers and almost climbing over each other, but that was not the case yesterday.

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"It was cruisy because there is so much space around the course," she said. "I will be doing it next year as well, but I might do the 10km."

Swimmers could choose to swim in either a wetsuit or togs, with winners acknowledged in both disciplines.

Kiwanis Club of Whakatane, who host the event each year, secretary Leigh Baker said the event had a long history on Lake Rotoma.

He said it started as a picnic decades ago.

"The Kiwanis were just a club of guys in Whakatane and they wanted to go for a swim in the fresh water, not the ocean.

"They had a picnic and got a couple of kids in here swimming, but the kids didn't know where to stop. They tried to get right across the lake."

He said since then they started putting out a set course for the children and it evolved over the years into the annual Lake Rotoma Kiwanis Open Water Swim. Plenty of children took part yesterday swimming in age group categories.