Linda showing plenty of resolve at 4 pm in the middle of Apolima Strait between Apolima island and
the headland of Savaii. She has been 10hrs in the water and still 3h 21m to the finish.
Eventually it had to come. Two swimmers from this year’s swim are the first to go beyond 12-hours to complete the 4th Apolima Strait swim. Mark Gillon and Linda Collard both of New Zealand took over 12 hours to complete the swim. Mark clocked 12h 29m 28s and Linda 13h 21m 29s.
For any swimmer, time was not important. Finishing the swim is the goal. To that end Mark and Linda’s achievements this year is exceptional for this reason, from the visuals we have as they approached the finish they were in good frame of mind and looked physically strong. Their strokes and stroke rate did not let up. They were stronger at the finish than seen earlier in the day.
When we caught up with Linda for the last time it was 3:59 pm, three and half hours before she crossed the finish line at Lusia’s Chalets. She had been in the water since 6am that morning, a full 10hrs by the time we left her side.
She was safe, she had Claire her swim captain on the kayak, and the support boat was a few meters away. Mark was the same but on the opposite side of the course to the north. In the end he proved closer to the middle than did Linda. Mark finished 41 minutes ahead of Linda – and neither looked the worst for wear.
Mark Gillon in the calm waters of the home stretch at Lusia's Lagoon
It means they met the time challenge and with plenty left in store. They were more than equal to the time challenge. Neither swimmer had any doubt that they would not reach the finish or entertained any thought of pulling out. That makes their achievements that much bigger.
Both swimmers are at least two hours better than their respective finish times. But then we would not have made a start on the 12-hour club.
Well done Mark and Linda.