New Zealand-based student Hannah Morgan, 21, will attempt a solo swim of the Foveaux Strait next week to raise money and awareness for mental health causes.
“After a three-year break from competitive swimming, I decided that I wanted to reconnect with the water but outside of the pool environment, so I steered towards open water swimming. After witnessing two of my previous training partners (2 out of the 10 who have completed the crossing), I floated the idea of it being an eventual goal of mine,” Morgan told SwimSwam. “However when I began university I was exposed to a staggering number of my peers experiencing mental health issues, and when we lost a close university friend who suffered from depression, I decided I needed to make my own waves as to how mental health was approached in New Zealand and decided that attempting to swim the Foveaux Strait would be the perfect way to bring awareness to the issue we’re facing – which is an increased level of mental health problems in all areas of our society.”
So on February 12th, Morgan – a former 200, 400, and 800 freestyle national champion – will embark on the approximately 30 kilometer (18.5 mile) swim with a team of boatmen, surf lifeguards, paramedics, and swim coaches managing the logistics.
“My mum has been outstanding in bringing these people together to help me achieve this monumental goal – all of whom are volunteers and are sacrificing their time and resources for the sake of my campaign Swim Strait for Life,” Morgan said.
She ramped up swim and dry land conditioning about a year ago despite undergoing shoulder surgery at the end of 2017. Since September of last year, she’s been swimming 7 to 9 times per week in both the ocean and pool, reaching up to 12.5km (7.75 miles) in single sessions.
“Swimming in the ocean has been hard because Dunedin’s water is very temperamental, but I’ve been trying to get out as much as possible to get used to being FREEZING – in the end it’ll be a complete mind game as to coping with the cold,” she explained. The water next week is expected to be between 14 and 16 degrees Celsius (57-61 Fahrenheit); Dunedin’s water was about 12 degrees (53 F) when Morgan started training.
She is aiming to raise $15,000 to be split between the Otago University Students’ Association and the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand. As of publishing, Morgan had raised nearly $10,000.
“The swim itself if a challenging and grueling feat but the fight for a healthier and stable New Zealand is one exponentially harder to achieve,” Morgan wrote of the endeavor. “Despite the swim being a draw factor for people’s interest into this campaign, my main purpose is to bring greater awareness and understanding of how we can prevent people in New Zealand from entering into a potentially dangerous mindset.”
Follow @swimstrait4life on Instagram or Facebook for updates on Morgan’s swim.