The Winter Swim Challenge 2021

 The Winter Swim Challenge 2021 name


Following the success of my Winter Swim Challenge (WSC) last year, in 2021 we threw open the doors to everyone in Aotearoa to help us create a brighter future for Kiwi kids facing serious illness or grief. 

Over 50 Kiwis got involved, raising $22,746 which will go towards vital mental health support for young Kiwis and their whānau. This includes 1-on-1 therapy, grief kits and extensive online resources. 


A thank you message from me.


Then COVID-19 happened 

The 2021 WSC sadly ended very abruptly, when COVID-19 reappeared in our communities. We had a lot of exciting things planned, including a South Island Tour. We're still hopeful that this can go ahead in November (timed for Children's Grief Awareness Week and Kenzie's birthday) and allow us to finish the WSC with a splash. 

Although the WSC didn’t end the way we imagined it would, it was still incredible, and we have our Winter Swimmers and supporters to thank for that. 


Meet some of our Winter Swimmers 

Sarah Luxon did an incredible job fundraising for the WSC, bringing in a life-changing $3,125, and she won the ORCA New Zealand S7 wetsuit for her efforts! 

Here Sarah explains why she took on the Challenge: 

"I took on the Challenge because my daughter Mackenzie died unexpectedly at 13 days old, just over 4 years ago. We go to Tekapo every year for her anniversary and happened to find out about Kenzie's Gift while we were there this year.  

I believe we would have benefited from this support at the time, and I wanted to give other families the opportunity for support if they were going through a similar situation. It’s not a situation anyone chooses, but a situation I’d like to help anyone through - if I have an opportunity to do so." 




Melissa and her team (Jenni, Sheryl, Lisa, Dawn and Jo) are from Nelson and are workmates from CLM Richmond. All mums, they’re also all swim instructors who teach tamariki from babies up to squad level. 

They decided to take on the Winter Swim Challenge because they work with tamariki every day and know how important mental health is. They also all love the water (although normally warmer water!). 



Based in Whangarei Heads, Northland, Robyn swam every day throughout winter! 
She loves winter ocean swimming, but the WSC offers her something more meaningful. Reflecting on her WSC experience, Robyn says: 
“I haven’t smiled this much in a long time! I love the sensation of the water and the support – both the company I have had in the water and the generosity of friends and family to give to such a great cause.” 



Tash took a midnight dip on Saturday 10th July in the Waikato River raising an amazing $700 for us in the process. 
Tash signed up for the Challenge because she’s been a cold-water swimmer for a while. When she lived in Australia, she used to love swimming at the beach during winter storms. She even started the Cambridge Winter Solstice Swim 3 years ago.  
So, when she saw the Winter Swim Challenge, she knew it was for her, especially because it’s for a great cause. As a teacher, she’s taught students with cancer and believes the resources we supply are invaluable. 



Our South Island Tour might be on hold for now but our supporters down in Queenstown have been smashing it throughout winter. 



Meet our amazing supporters 

We had a massive amount of support with the WSC from a wide range of businesses and organisations. Our supporters provided us with so much help, including giveaways, accommodation, car hire, promo codes and an author talk.  

We’d love to give a huge heartfelt thanks to supporters including: 

  • JUCY 
  • Discover Tekapo Accommodation 
  • ORCA  New Zealand 
  • Torpedo7 
  • NOXEN 
  • Edmund Hillary Collection 
  • Teamline 
  • Smoc smoc 
  • Author Annette Lees 


My reflections 

I’d like to say a huge thank you to all our sponsors and participants who got behind the winter swim challenge this year. Your support has meant more than you know. When I started my own winter swim challenge last year as a  way of raising much-needed funds to support the mental health of young Kiwis and their whanau facing serious illness or grief after the pandemic hit, I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that an amazing group of wonderful people from throughout Aotearoa New Zealand would join in the madness and shenanigans.


I have so enjoyed following everyone's winter swimming adventures and e-meeting a lot of you, and I am only hoping we get the chance to swim together in the near future. Although this year's challenge got cut short and our  South Island Tour postponed, there is always next year. I am only hoping my heart and body holds out and behaves themselves, as that South Island Swim Tour is top of my bucket list of challenges...and me thinks I might just have to up the challenge to maybe 30 days of June swimming in the  South  Island to kick off the  Winter Swim Challenge 2022.


Whose game? See you all then. In the meantime, just keep on swimming 🏊🏼‍♀️ 






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