Brian Gray - Lake Taupo

Little Waihi to Taupo

40.2 km (25.0 miles)

13 hours, 51 minutes on 29 January 2022

Observed and documented by Ivan Polyntcer



  • Name: Brian Gray
  • Gender: male
  • Age on swim date: 50
  • Nationality: New Zealand
  • Resides: Auckland

Support Personnel

  • Richard Willis - boat captain
  • Brent Foster - nutrition
  • Giles Willis - land support


Ivan Polyntcer

Escort Vessel

Name Type Port

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: Blue 70 Energy Jammer swimsuit, Speedo Opal googles x2, silicone cap, Ezydog Adventure Light x2, Surfers Mud sun screen, Vaseline.

Route Definition

  • Body of Water: Lake Taupo
  • Route Type: one-way
  • Start Location: Little Waihi boat ramp (-38.95121, 175.74546)
  • Finish Location: Lake Taupo Yacht Club (-38.68833, 176.06547)
  • Minimum Route Distance: 40.2 km (25.0 miles) (map)


LongSwimsDB: Lake Taupo.

Swim Data

  • Start: 29 January 2022, 04:14 (New Zealand Daylight Time, Pacific/Auckland, UTC13).
  • Finish: 29 January 2022, 18:05
  • Elapsed: 13 hours, 51 minutes, 16 seconds.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (C) 20 23
Air Temp (C) 12 23
Wind (knots) 0 3

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 30 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Click to expand map.

Speed Plot

Nutrition: GU Roctane Energy drink mix every 30 mins from 5 am, 65g per 500ml warm water. GU energy gels 32g every third feed.

Observer Log


by Brian Gray

This swim has been on my mind constantly since I failed it the year before (due to high winds at around the 28km mark). There is nothing like a good failure to make you reflect on things and I think this was good for me.

With a Covid lockdown from mid-August, pools were out of bounds, Not the best as I did all my swimming in pools except year-round Saturday “cold long” swims. Now the ocean was the only place to train. Being forced into the ocean was a blessing in disguise. The oceans around Auckland are pretty nice and it has been lovely getting reacquainted with nature, swimming as the sun comes up. I had also begun regularly swimming with a great group of swimmers. Still, it was not always easy getting into the ocean in the dark by yourself to swim for 2-3 hours every morning. Fortunately, for many of my swims I had company.

NZ does not have a large number of marathon swimmers, pretty much all who do so know each other. This leads to people of similar abilities grouping together to train on weekends. I’ve fallen in with some of NZ’s best and it has been such a benefit in terms of training, encouragement and knowledge. Such a great community. Whenever anyone does a notable swim, everyone spends the day on the NZ messenger group ‘People who swim long’ offering encouragement while watching tracker progress. Such a wonderful community that I feel blessed to be part of.

Taupo is NZ’s best known lake NZ and an absolute icon. In my youth our family often holidayed there. My journey to swimming Taupo started much later though. I don’t have a background in swimming, I started as a way of keeping fit after moving back from London in 2000. In mid-2020 I thought I would like to do something more significant. Coincidently a new person joined our squad to train for Taupo. We teamed up and were all in from there. We ramped up to swimming six days a week with long swims on Saturday. My partner managed to do his swim with Phil last year and pretty much stopped after that. In the last six months I had increased swimming to seven days a week. Joining up with others, Saturdays became special crazy training sessions, such as small group swim of 20 km up the coast or even pool swimming from 8pm to 8am.

Soon enough my designated window had arrived. Good weather came on the first weekend and we met at the Braxmere Lodge located at the start point. I went for a wee swim at dusk to reacquaint myself with the water. The night soon bought up a big chop with the boat pulling a cleat from the jetty. Fortunately, things had calmed down a bit by morning. Richard the boat captain had a sore neck the night before so he got allocated the good bed (and because he snores and we can shut him away). I woke at 3:00 (with a sore neck from the fold out bed) for a feed and final preparations. It’s a special feeling getting ready for a big day with lots of attention all focused on you, but all the preparation held nerves firmly in check.

After food, getting dressed, zincing and lighting up we went out. Everything had been loaded into the boat the night before so we got going pretty quickly at 04:14. I enjoy swimming in the dark but it was hard focusing on lights. We should have had them shine onto the boat so I could focus on the boat. I did go way off course at the beginning and had to be chased down. Once the light came up it was a bit easier. The morning was typified by sloppy conditions which made rhythm a bit hard. I remember last year, a feeling of absolute elation watching the sun come up on a dead flat lake, miles from shore, unfortunately there was none of that this year with all the slop.

As the late morning wore on the conditions got smoother. Progress seemed pretty good. There were little plankton like things in the lake that looked like stars and seemed a good indication of progress, I found small things such as this to be very beneficial, as it didn’t always seem I was moving!

The total distance is over 40 km but the swim seems to start at the 20 km mark. At 20 km you know you are half way. The next point of interest is the Acacia point 13 kms away. The slog to the point is the psychological hardest part, 13 km is a goodly distance and the point seems to take an age to reach, particularly when you are a bit tired.

The great Phil Rush and Mike Cochrane were in Taupo as they were escorting someone the next day. They came out and helped escort me for an hour or so about 5 km from the point, something that was much appreciated (and well timed). Mike took some great drone footage also.

From the Acacia point there is only 7 km left and doing that just seems to be a formality. I was a bit tired and it was a bit hard, but I can’t say what was hard about it. My arms worked OK but my stroke had broken down a bit and my feet were dropping. I still felt like I could go much further. As I drew closer to the yacht club, I could see many people on shore. I lifted my head and could hear lots of cheering, what a great welcome. Unknown to me, quite a number of my swim group had driven down to welcome me ashore! I was glad to gain my feet and walk out. Ivan kept everyone off me till he had finished his electronics, then it was hugs all round. Did I mention I love this community! What a great sense of achievement, especially after my failure last year. Having the target to aim for, thinking about it every day and then finally completing it, feels like such an accomplishment. I felt like a weight I didn’t know I had, had been lifted off my back. This is something that no one can take away.

Swimming is such a team event. I feel so grateful for the help I received. Everyone was spot on. Ivan organised the days leading up to the swim and the swim so well. Brent was great on the feeds. Ric handled the boat well. It was a little fast as I tired and he had a bit of a time keeping control. There was one over-shoot where he had to circle round otherwise the boat was close to me the whole way. We did start the Traccar a bit early and used the Garmin watch for the official time and back up course tracking.


Click to enlarge.