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‘Old fellas’ conquer epic swim from Great Barrier

Flagstaff Team

Epic crossing… A five-man relay team of (from left to right) Richard Hart, Ian Jones, David Mitchell, Rick Wells and Karim Rostami celebrate with supporters after swimming from Great Barrier Island to Takapuna Beach to raise money for St John

Former world triathlon champion and Commonwealth Games swimmer Rick Wells (58) reckons a 100km marathon swim relay from Great Barrier Island to Takapuna last week “wasn’t a bad effort from a few old fellas”.

Wells joined former All Black Ian Jones, Karim Rostami, David Mitchell and Richard Hart in the relay challenge, which raised close to $250,000 for St John.

The team left Great Barrier at 10.30am on 23 March and reached Takapuna just after 11am the next day, swimming 30-minute legs each.

At night it was pitch black, but swimmers’ hand movements were “reflecting like phosphorus off our goggles, like a scene from Star Wars,” Wells said.

Well done, Dad… Rick Wells’ daughter Sophie welcomes him ashore

Jones, aged 53, described the fundraising epic as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Crazy is good, right? A crazy idea gets things done,” he said.

Jones swam 12 cycles in the race and reckons he covered around 22km on the water.

“The conditions were rough at the start, but the water was warm so there was no shock factor when you were getting in which was a big help.

“The highlight was the night swimming – we spent some time with a pod of dolphins and a couple of hammerhead sharks came to have a look at us at one stage.”

“I saw the North Shore coastline at day- break and that was a bit of relief,” Jones said.

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