Tessa Pembleton


Last year you had not swum more than a few metres in the sea, who or what inspired you to have signed up for all 7 Mid Length swims this season?

It was New Year’s day this year and a group of us were sitting around discussing what we wanted from the year. A couple of us were turning thirty and felt like we needed to try more things.

One of my friends, Eva, was still recovering from a concussion, so the more intense options like starting a rugby team or Spartan were out for her.

When she saw the next ocean swim in the series was falling on her birthday she decided that we all had to sign up and celebrate together afterwards.

Event day came and the training had not. We had still not attempted an ocean swim and hoped that our high school swimming would help us complete.

Then the call came that Eva’s father had had severe kidney failure and been rushed to hospital.

We were ready to give up, but once stable he called and said the thing that would help him feel better would be to hear that we all made it.

So we stood on the beach, nervously glancing at each other as the safety briefing told us if we did not KNOW we could swim the distance we should not attempt to.

As it turns out we (luckily) did finish, and we all got out feeling amazing. We went out for her birthday and made a promise that we would be back.

We did as many of the swims as we could make it to, each one its own adventure with great community and amazing glimpses of our country.

This season we decided it was time to level up. We want to make it to medal level.

Swimming with a squad is great for motivation, are there any bets in place for who will win bragging rights by coming out on top and who will have to buy the first round  at the pub after the swims?

In our squad it is all about making it. Each of us has strengths and weaknesses.

We attempted a triathlon too and whilst my swimming speed is up there it turns out I bike at the level of a five year old with training wheels!

No matter how we do, we support each other like we’ve won Gold. And of course we just get a tab at the pub afterwards, success must be celebrated!

Living in Auckland has meant no swimming for the last month, how are you keeping up your fitness and trying to prepare mentally and physically for the 1000m Full Taka in November?

I’m an active person and go a little crazy sitting around so I’ve been running and cycling to keep up my fitness. I’m also a Les Mills class junkie.

When lockdown started I had just been getting back to the pool. I’m a bit of a baby when it comes to cold water so I had been avoiding it.

So I took up the challenge during lockdown to follow the Wim Hof breathing guide. I really feel it helped challenge my mind and taught me to control my heart rate.

Any words of wisdom or advice for anyone out there sitting on the fence about taking the plunge that might get them to dive in?

It’s never too early or too late to try something new and step outside your comfort zone. Start small and dip a toe in.

The swimming community is amazing at encouraging people who were giving it a go and the support and energy you feel is second to none.

Also don’t be worried about sharks!

Anything else that you want to share?

I think swimming is an amazing hobby to get into because it spans the ages.

Our minds were blown by some of the veterans completing triple figure race numbers in their 80’s and looking just as happy and accomplished as the littlies of about 8. Swimming is something that the whole family can enjoy with no equipment apart from the swimming pool nature gave us.