There was excitement on Lake Taupō this afternoon while Liana Smith, 24, completed a length of the lake swim. With only one quarter of the swim left to go, support crew realised Liana was on track to break the record for the fastest female time.
Fundraising for mental health charity I Am Hope, Liana has raised $4670 so far with the swim across Lake Taupō the first of three swims in a bid for the Triple Crown - swimming the length of Lake Taupō 40.2km, the Cook Strait 26km and Foveaux Strait 27km, all without a wetsuit.
The record for the 40.2km swim is currently held by Anna Marshall, who in 2008 swam from Wahi at the Southern end of the lake to the Lake Taupō Yacht Club in 11 hours 26 minutes.
A New Zealand swim titleholder and record holder at 17 years, Liana had a devastating setback when it was discovered she had fractured her back. She went from training 26 hours a week to being on full bed rest and learning basic motor skills again.
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"I know full well how necessary this support is for young Kiwis to help get them back out there following their passions."
"It took a toll on me, and I lost who I was for a number of years including my love of the water."
Coach Phil Rush, who is the world record holder for the fastest two and three way swim of the English Channel, said the lake conditions were perfect with barely a breath of wind and warmish water temperature of 17.3C. He said Liana was tracking towards an 11 hour finish, at around 3.30pm this afternoon however by 4.30pm Liana was still well out in the bay.
Coming in just after 5pm tonight, Liana was welcomed by friends and family who were incredibly proud of her achievement.