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Digital Subscriptions > Outdoor Swimmer > December 2017 > THE SWIM PATH LESS TRAVELLED


Dan Abel’s circumnavigation of Rarotonga resurrects a rich heritage of distance swimming in the Pacific.


Accompanied by a flotilla of vaka (outrigger) paddlers, whale song, bat woman on a jet ski, spear fishermen, traditional drumming and cheers from the large crowd gathered at ‘Trader Jacks’ overlooking Avarua Harbour, Dan Abel emerged from the water after 11 hours and 2 minutes of swimming. In doing so, he joined the final dots of a swim project that was not simply a story of personal endeavour, but a swim adventure into the unknown that connects Australasia and the Pacific to its rich distance swimming heritage.

One of New Zealand’s foremost distance swimming pioneers and in Dan’s words an “Untold Heroine”, is Meda McKenzie. She was the first person to successfully complete a circumnavigation of Rarotonga; and Cook Islands native Don Carlaw was the second. Both swims were completed in 1985 and took over 17 hours. This was the first attempt in more than 32 years.

Following the swim path less travelled requires both embracing, and, where possible, mitigating uncertainty. Planning and preparation not only involved putting in the pool hours, but also local research. In a pre-swim spoof the team pretended to flip a coin to make the decision to swim clockwise around the island, but “In reality we did a lot of homework”, explains Dan.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

Welcome to our Christmas issue! The December issue of Outdoor Swimmer is packed full of awesome features to inspire your swimming adventures. Master the medley; full listings for festive dips around the country; Christmas gift guide; plus, nutrition, technique, events, destinations, interviews and more of your stunning photography and swim stories.