Kimberley Chambers, a relatively newcomer to marathon swimming with two Farallon Islands relay swims to her name, received a good education en route to her successful 8 hour 26 minute crossing of the Cook Strait today.

Taking off quickly from South Island, the native from New Zealand now working in San Francisco for Adobe, reached halfway in less than 3 hours.

But the stiff winds that cancelled the New Zealand Ironman less than 24 hours before her swim raised its ugly head again and battered her around like socks in a dryer for the next 5 hours.

It was extremely tough for the last 90 minutes; I hit a freezing cold patch of extremely choppy water. I felt like a washing machine and inhaled tons of sea water. I didn’t think I was going to make it. I had a pod of very rare Maui Dolphins only 150 left, and I had about 15 of them swim alongside me, underneath me and in front of me. So close I though I could touch them. They haven’t had a dolphin sighting on a swim for a really long time.”

But Kim‘s colleagues from the Night Train Swimmers of San Francisco watched her SPOT Tracker and never gave up on the woman of steel. “She has all the right stuff,” says Vito Bialla of the Farallon Islands Swimming Federation. “She enjoys the challenge and has the mental edge and physical capabilities to become one of the best.”

Sticking with it in a rough and angry Cook Strait is certainly one good way to begin mastering the physical and mental demands of open water swimming at its most extreme.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source