On the treadmill of life, it's easy to robotically crank up the pace in the hope of getting through a day rather than simply trying to enjoy it.
Consequently, Amy Renall is grateful to have found a sanctuary — the ocean — to break the monotony of the daily humdrum with a modicum of serenity.
"It's so good for the body and the soul," said the 40-year-old after clocking 30m 45s in the 2km distance to win the overall fastest female swimmer in the second leg of the inaugural Hawke's Bay Ocean Swim Series at Perfume Point, Napier, on Saturday.
Renall said her occupation was quite demanding so swimming played a pivotal part in finding a balance in her daily routine.
"It's really my go-to place and it keeps me happy," said the Hastings police detective, who also has been involved in waka ama for the past decade.
"I find peace with my head in the water — just being with myself."
Renall feels the ocean event also fosters a family environment, where children can watch adult relatives, reinforcing that sense of affinity with the sea.
Her husband, Nick Renall, a police sergeant, and their three sons, Jack, 9, Lachie, 5, and Flynn, 3, were there to support her.
"They're all learning to swim," she said, revealing she and Nick were already talking about competing in some swim-run events next year.
"It's a different kind of challenge," she said, when asked what was so alluring about the ocean. "It challenges you more mentally because you can't stop."
Renall said hitting the end of a wall, as one would in a pool, to have a rest wasn't an option in the ocean.
"It's such an awesome thing for people to be just doing this event, you know, pushing themselves out there because ocean swimming is such an achievement [in itself], just to be out there in the sea."
Her Havelock North High School friend, Theresa Bruce, a mother of three, had conquered the 1km distance in her quest to stray outside her comfort zone on Saturday.
"It was so awesome to see that," Renall said.
Nicki Lawson clocked 32:07 to finish second best female overall, while Chantelle Monrad (33:25), also from the younger brigade of 30-39 females, was third.
Renall only got back into swimming in the past couple of years.
At high school she was under the tutelage of retired John Beaumont at the now-defunct Trojans Swim Club.
A pedigree pool swimmer through to her formative years, Renall went on to compete at the Pan Pacific World Championship in Australia but missed out on a medal.
"I got blitzed by the bloody Aussies," she said with a laugh.
When she moved to Wellington, Gary Hurring, a former Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist, mentored her for a few years.
The conditions at Perfume Point on Saturday morning got a little tricky when the northwesterlies kicked in.
"She's a lot choppier today [Saturday] than it was the last time [the first round on November 24] so it was a bit of challenge and I swallowed a little bit of water."
Renall saluted organiser Dale Long because the numbers had doubled from the first race.
"Hopefully more people will come down to support him because he's really doing so much for Hawke's Bay swimming and it's cool."
The inaugural series is the brainchild of Long, a 52-year-old from Tasmania, who moved to a 7ha property in Tukituki Valley two years ago with wife Maria Gigney, an architect. He hopes to grow the self-funded series into a sponsored event in a few years.
Renall was looking to swim into next year and "take on some of those boys" because conditions on a race day often dictated terms and could suit anyone.
The five-event Saturday series ends on March 30, but takes a break on February 16 to avoid a clash with the annual Port of Napier Ocean Swim.
The overall 2km male winner on Saturday was Sam Riddell, originally of Napier but now living and working in Auckland as a civil engineer.
Riddell, who is home for the Christmas holidays, clocked 28m 28s in the 20-29 male category. Lachlan Cairns was second in 29:31 in the 16-19 division and Rhys Seale (30:35) was third overall in the same grade.
"My old man does a lot of swimming as well and he does cycling so I thought I'd give it a go," the 27-year-old said of his father, Mark Riddell, a Napier Boys' High School teacher.
Sam Riddell was a little surprised to have won because he was simply intending to finish the race but he is no stranger to ocean swims, having done a few in Auckland and Northland.
Like Renall, he finds ocean swims a challenge.
"You know, there's no hiding in the water," he said.
The former NBHS pupil said on the way back it was a bit of a battle, swimming against the chop on Saturday.
Riddell found ocean swims gave him something to do in his spare time.
An "ocean lover", he was a member of the Westshore Surf Lifesaving Club in the Bay and appreciates what his hometown offers in terms of keeping harmony with nature compared with the "Big Smoke'.
Riddell urged those in the undecided zone to give it a go because lifeguards patrol the races to ensure safety.
"If you get into trouble they are there to help."