These days, you will find Casey on the side of the Pool as a swim coach at Huia Pool in Lower Hutt, passing on his immense knowledge and experience of elite ultra-marathon swimming borne of trials, experience, disappointments and high achievement. He tells his story here in his own words.
Cook Strait n-s
Date of swim: 13 April 2008
Time: 4hrs 37mins (Record - fastest time)
Neutral Observer, Philip Rush
Age: 21 yrs
Neutral observer: Philip Rush
Date of swim: 25 February 2013
Time: 10hrs 52mins 48secs
Age: 26 yrs
Neutral observer: Philip Rush
English Channel E-F
Date of swim: 4 September 2013
TIme: 9hrs 14mins
Age: 27 yrs
Neutral observer: CSPF
Please tell us something unique about your achievement. Tell your story
At around 10 years old I wanted to become an Olympian after watching Danyon Loader win two golds medals at the 1996 Olympics. Unfortunately, I never achieved this goal. However, during my teens, I noticed I was rather good at open water swimming. Winning local events and constantly achieving higher placings at ocean swims events.
My coach John Ross would always get the squad to sit on the side of the pool and tell all of us around 10/11 years of age and say, you are all such good swimmers you could swim to the South Island if you wanted to. Some swimming buddies Kate Johns & John Gatfield became the youngest at the time to swim Cook Strait. My mum, Ruth would always mention you should do the Strait. I was more interested in doing well in the pool.
At 20 I caved and said I would give it a good crack. So I was booked in for April 2008. In January our squad had completed a week-long training camp clocking over 100km in the week. The longest session was 12 km. Heading into the Cook Strait, that was the longest swim I had completed so I was extremely nervous to swim 26 km in one hit. My best friend Matt Woodrow said to me the week before you should probably go under five hours. I laughed and said, let's see what happens on the day.
After the first choppy hour, the swell smoothed out, it was around 1.5m. Using the current in my favour I was able to swim between 6 - 6.5km/hr. That is holding under 1-minute pace per 100m. I was aiming to hold 1.12min pace (5km/h). Phil, Joe (my dad), Frank (my coach) and the boat crew had bets on when I would finish and were expecting the tide to change and push me away. I was able to beat the tide and break the existing record and in the process set a new record for the Strait at 4hrs 37mins.
After completing the Cook Strait, the English Channel was next on my list. However, my main focus was the 2012 London Olympic Games in the 10-km open water swim event. In the four years I changed swimming clubs, battled with various shoulder injuries, missed out on qualifying for the World Champs, and World Cup events by seconds. Diagnosed with Scoliosis, inguinal hernia and Atrial fibrillation also made my journey an interesting battle. At the 2012 Olympic trials, I missed out on the top two spot by 20-seconds. Heartbroken! Got over it, and I focused my attention on the English Channel and Taupō.
How did your life change following your achievement(s)?
On the beach of Wissant France, a couple was flying a kite looking at me oddly as I had emerged from the water, I waved, they waved back, then I started running back in the water. During this moment I broke down in tears knowing that this was my last 'serious' swim. I wanted to break the English Channel record but the weather and tides did not play ball and approximately swam an extra 10km. Returning to NZ, I switched my determination and focus to study and set up my career in IT, and learning to Snowboard. Now, I now pass my knowledge and skill onto fellow swimmers seeking to complete any open water event by coaching.