When Dannevirke's Ngamihi Stephenson told her husband she was taking on the 100km impact swim challenge at AMP Wai Splash, he just shook his head in disbelief.

"He said, 'you can't do that'," she said. "I told him, watch me."

Along with 17 other entrants in the challenge, Mrs Stephenson had eight weeks to complete her 100km, but last Friday she was a triumphant winner of the event, finishing her last lap on day 28.

"My husband doesn't say much now," she said. "But he did suggest I do an extra 50km."


The 100km impact incentive programme offered participants rewards for every 10km and they could choose to swim, run, walk, or dog paddle, Annette Lilo of AMP Wai Splash said.

"Ngamihi's achievement is massive," she said. "She's an icon around here and a role model who sets an example at the pool."

Mrs Stephenson took on the challenge to help with her breathing and initially thought because of her asthma she would do one length freestyle and backstroke on her second.

"On the second week I said to Kelly [Webber], the manager of the pool complex, I felt so good I would do freestyle all the way," she said. "At the start of the challenge I had my puffer at the end of the lane, but as my breathing improved, it was put away altogether.

"I'm 64, so if I can do this, then I'm sure a lot of young ones can, even if they've got asthma. It does help."

Although the challenge is over Mrs Stephenson doesn't intend to give up swimming. "I'm going to keep on and I'm even thinking about taking part in the Iron Maori in Hawke's Bay, too," she said.

After she completed her 100km on Friday, Mrs Stephenson was presented with a basket of goodies, including beauty products and a restaurant voucher.