The idea for the NZ Ultra Marathon Swim Awards was birthed at the Apolima Strait Legends Dinner in Auckland in 2016. That event was put on by Samoa Events (my business) to honour the amazing five Kiwi swimmers who swam in the inaugural Apolima Strait Swim in Samoa that year.
I said to myself then, the next Legends Awards Dinner will honour ALL Kiwi ultra-marathon swimmers who take on a 20 km race and more anywhere in the world.
In 2011 I had the honour of being invited by a friend of mine to be on his team for his Lake Taupo swim. Greg Sharp’s 13hr swim from Little Waihi in the south to the Taupo Township in the north is one of the greatest things I have seen.
My job now puts me in direct contact with many amazing ultra-ocean swimmers like Greg. There is a case for a national celebration of our sport where the sacrifices and achievements by ultra-marathon swimmers is acknowledged and honoured.
The current season that ends on the 30th May has seen on my count (there are more) 31 ultra marathon swimmers across 3 Swims - Cook Strait (2), Lake Taupo (7), Chopper Swim Challenge (16) and Apolima Strait (6). There are other swims and swimmers yet to go on the list.
The Awards night is not just for ultra-swimmers, but for the open water swim community to come together and celebrate our sport.
I have taken it upon myself and Samoa Events to put on the Awards with what we can put together. I am also confident that we will have the greatest night (none better because it’s the first one) to honour this Season’s swimmers.
The first person I spoke with on this idea was Philip Rush. He is the pioneer and forerunner of NZ ultra-marathon swimming. Philip will be our keynote Speaker on the night. As well, we will hear from four of this season’s swimmers on their swim. Those Legends talks will be inspiring and amazing.
The Awards will honour all attending 2017/18 Swimmers with the NZ Legends Plaque. One of them will be honoured as the NZ Ultra Marathon Swimmer of Year.
Other Awards – we will present three Lifetime Awards on the night. These are Swimmers whose achievements in the sport stand head and shoulders as a shining example of what can be achieved. These individuals are also servants of the OWS community to this day.
Backdated Awards – it is important for the Awards to have a defined season. However, in the interest of making up for lost time we will look to honour all attending ultra-marathon swimmers from previous years – as much as cash flow will allow. It would be great to include in this year's Awards Steven Kennedy and Caitlin O'Reilly (2016/17) who at 12 years on her swim date is the youngest person to swim the Strait.
Funding the Awards
The risk undertaking for the first awards is on Samoa Events. I am also writing to Clubs and well known OWS businesses and Trusts seeking financial assistance with the Awards. Any assistance that can be offered will be well received and appreciated.
What’s the Future?
At the end of this year’s Awards the invitation will be put out for an Executive to be formed to manage and run the next Awards. The NZ Ultra Marathon Swim Awards will be formalised. The new Executive will inherit the intellectual property of the Awards – website, Facebook Page, Bank Account, logo, Email domain and addresses and more to run and manage future Awards.
How many do we need?
For this year’s Awards we need at least 50 to attend. Fees from 50 paid attendees will go a long way to pay for this year’s Awards. The tickets are priced to cover the meal, first drinks, plaques and trophies and some entertainment on the night. The Awards is a Kiwi affair and will have the appropriate welcome and features of a Kiwi welcome.
Other help needed
If you can help with things like Decorating the Awards venue, table setting and or welcoming our Guests at the door please let me know. We will also need a Data Projector on the night. Your help will help make this a great event for us all.
I now invite you to join in and help celebrate the pinnacle of our Sport on Awards night. The biggest help we need is for you to invite your family and friends - book a table out. Tickets can now be purchased by visiting the Tickets page on the website.
NZ Ultra Swim Awards
Host, 2018 Awards