Young and old out in force for ocean swim in Wellington Harbour

More than 1000 swimmers of different ages and stages in life took the plunge in Wellington Harbour as part of the Interislander Capital Classic.

The Banana Boat New Zealand Ocean Swim series, held across the country over summer, encourages kiwis to set themselves a swimming goal and get into the ocean.

Amongst those eager to take advantage of the warm weather and test their fitness in Wellington on Sunday were John Marshall, 82, and Cadence McHugo, 12.

Though 70-odd years separates them, the oldest and youngest competitors in the 3.3km race said the same thing motivated them – a chance to push themselves and have fun.

Cadence, from Manakau, near Ōtaki, is a keen swimmer and member of the Ōtaki Surf Lifesaving Club who was taking part in the full swim for the first time.

"I just wanted to push myself and see what I could do."

Staying steady and in a straight line during the 2km swim to the lighthouse was the most difficult part of the race, she said.

It was also "a little bit cold and there were lots of jellyfish", but Marshall provided her with some valuable advice before the race.

"He said just relax and the start and don't go too fast," Cadence said.

Marshall, from Papamoa, is competing in all the Ocean Swim series races this year.

He took up the sport about five years ago after retiring and finding that running wasn't as enjoyable anymore.

"Once I got in the pool and found I could swim 3km ... I decided to get in the ocean swim."

The conditions in Wellington Harbour were "very comfortable" on Sunday, but that is not always the case, Marshall said.

"When the conditions aren't that comfortable, I wonder what I'm doing here and I wonder if people my age [who] aren't doing it are more sensible."

He has no plans to slow down with four more ocean swims ahead of him. The next will be held at Blue Lake in Rotorua on February 17.

"To finish the event is very satisfying," he said.

As for post-swim activities, Cadence will be patrolling at Ōtaki Beach with her surf lifesaving club, while Marshall has plans to kick back with some food and a cold beverage.

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