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For the past 10 years, Bruce Hopkins' 82-year-old mother has braved the elements for a daily swim in Houhora Harbour in the Far North.

Her dedication to the sport has inspired the Lord of the Rings actor to take part in tomorrow's harbour crossing.

"I thought if she could do it, so could I," said Mr Hopkins.

Mr Hopkins, who played Gamling in the final two films of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, was reacquainted with swimming earlier this year when he competed in the King of the Bays Takapuna to Milford Swim, after a 20-year break.

"It's one of those things where it's not about beating anyone but [about] just doing it," said Mr Hopkins.

The 54-year-old's training programme involves swimming lengths of Takapuna Beach or Cremorne Bay in Herne Bay.

Over the past two weeks he has noticed the waters are starting to warm after a chilly winter - a welcome relief for Mr Hopkins, who chooses to swim without a wetsuit.

"It's invigorating but sometimes I'll be driving over the Harbour Bridge and my hands are shaking as I'm trying to hold the steering wheel."

Mr Hopkins, who grew up in Russell, said his childhood and that of his three siblings revolved around the water.

"As soon as school was finished for the day we would go down to the water," said Mr Hopkins.

He then continued to swim during his years as a professional dancer.

"Running wasn't great for my dancer joints," said Mr Hopkins, who describes himself as "not a swimming fanatic", and is aiming for a time close to 50 minutes.

"I have a fair idea of what it will be like to get out at the Viaduct, look back and think, 'far out, I did it'."

The next event on his "bucket list" is the swim from his home town, Russell, to Paihia in December.