Dream comes true

By Bronwen Burmester ,

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Bronwen with sons Moss and Cole at the finish in Salelavalu. Moss Burmester is a NZ double Olympian in swimming and a Commonwealth Record holder. Cole is also a NZ triathlete and representative

Bronwen with sons Moss and Cole at the finish in Salelavalu. Moss Burmester is a NZ double Olympian in swimming and a Commonwealth Record holder. Cole is also a NZ triathlete and representative

At aged 10 I told my Dad I wanted to swim the English Channel and throughout my childhood, because swimming and the sea was a big part of my life, that goal sat in the back of my mind waiting…….

Swimming from Upolu to Savaii became a goal of mine around July 2015 when a friend of ours in Samoa, Seti Afoa, sent me the info on the inaugural 22.3km swim to be held on 7 April 2016 that he was organising as one of the many amazing events.

So, the Upolu to Savaii swim became my English Channel. 

I loved every bit of my training for it.

It wasn’t always easy. Probably 80% was done in the ocean around Whangamata over 8 months.

Our 3 sons became my coaches, advisors and occasional training partners. All amazing in their own right - Moss Burmester being a double Olympian in swimming, Cole Burmester a tri-athlete and NZ rep, and Dane Burmester an Ironman and a Fund of realistic inspirational logic.

Before signing up for the swim I still had occasional days when depression and suicidal thoughts tried to encroach my mind set. But when I began my training in August 2015, these horrible feelings were gradually driven away.

In the sea, while swimming I truly felt focused, whole and calm. So, I have many people to thank.

Greg (husband) not initially excited about my tunnel vision to do the swim. He nonetheless, gave me time off our busy work to train, helped with funds, and, in his quiet way, showed me his belief in my determination. Thanks Greg for loving me enough to allow me to fulfil that dream and making big sacrifices yourself. 

Dane, Cole and Moss - thanks guys. Cole was first to put his hand up to kayak for me. Moss was logical choice to be my boat and swim director and Dane, who could not go with us, did his encouragement from Wellington and it meant a lot. Thanks to their partners and also Ryder Consulting and Steel Institute of Performance for granting them leave to support me in Samoa.

Annie McLeod - thanks for believing and trusting in me and helping me get started. You are very special and always an inspiration to me.

Sheryl McLay - thanks for the great pool session I had with your squad and the advice over coffee about nutrition and time in water. With your own swims across THE English Channel and Cook Strait, you are well qualified to advise!! Appreciated.

Dr Amy Stanway - from Da Vinci Clinic in Tauranga, Thanks for the excellent Neutrogena Sunscreen Products which I used in training and on my 8.05 hour swim. It worked a treat and no burning!!

Sue Booker and Peter - our “old” neighbours in Whangamata. They made the commitment to go to Samoa to cheer me on before I had even booked my flights! They have been a load of fun on the trip and lovely to share the days before and after the swim with you. I value your friendship Sue. Pete also took on role of photographer when I made the finish and holding my drink bottle and food because it was too heavy for my knackered arms to lift!

Thanks to my many friends in Whangamata and those in Tauranga too. Your texts and messages meant a lot and I have appreciated your drop in visits to us at work, sharing our Samoan night. Some of you have witnessed and shared my dark moments over past 5 years and have given me unconditional love and support. I thank you so much.

My Whanau - thanks to the Clarks Hugh Clark and Debbie Clark and Kathy Capp and Alistair Capp and Burmester family. You are awesome Whanau!.

The other swimmers who swam Upolu to Savaii -What a fabulous terrific group. Amazing Abby Armstrong and Phillip Ryan. Our friendly lovely Aussie Kate Sinclair and the tenacious fun Todd Pritchard who I have huge respect for and who became our group spokesman. (You had no choice in that Todd!). All your supporters were such fun and I look forward to a few more get togethers and swims.

It was fantastic too to have the two Teams from Samoa also complete it.

Rosie Sharman and Mike Cochrane were so generous in their sharing of knowledge of the Apolima Strait. They did the test swim in August 2015 and were encouraging all the way. Mike was the unflappable smiling safety and tech guy who seemed to have everything under control on the water. And Rosie is so gorgeously bubbly that I felt totally energised when I was around her!

Finally Seti Afoa - thanks so much for your vision and energy and organising the Upolu to Savaii Swim. It was a huge effort to swim it but what you did in pulling it all together and everything you did behind the scenes was incredible. You deserve so much input and assistance for what you are doing so selflessly. 

The accommodation at Amoa Resort was outstanding. Thank you.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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