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.

Craig had been planning a swimming marathon around the 85km perimeter of Lake Waikaremoana for about a year and when he returned to Flaxmere in April for the 20-year memorial of his brother's death he found the cause.

"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 U 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 honour 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 head to the Bay soon to show him the unique "supply raft" he will tow behind him during his totally unassisted swim early in February next year.

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

He is naming the raft D717 - which was Glenn's police number.

Mr McKibbin, 39, said his years of Ironman competition had set him up physically, although after he got married "and the kids came along" that "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 because 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 will be using the twin-hulled polystyrene supply raft Mr Cook designed and built.

"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 doing 5km before work three days a week but plans to step 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 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 challenge and fundraising venture for the U Turn Trust and has set up link to the Givealittle site for donations.

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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. 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."