OTAGO University student Hannah Morgan slogged it out yesterday to cross the treacherous waters of Foveaux Strait to raise awareness about mental health despite feeling seasick for much of her time in the water.
“I got really, really seasick. And that really just puts you in a green state. It was pretty hard and feeling that for at least six of the however long hours I was in the water. I am just chuffed that I could get through it.”
Despite feeling seasick, Morgan crossed the strait in 8hr 46min, about 16 minutes off the record set in 2016.
A former James Hargest College pupil, Morgan said she was not interested in the time, but had decided to swim the strait to raise awareness of mental health as she was concerned at the number of fellow students affected by mental health issues.
“The amount of people that have rallied behind me is just incredible. That’s testament to how New Zealand cares about mental health. There are people behind you, no matter what, whether you know them or not.”
A small crowd of friends and supporters gathered at the Bluff Ferry Terminal to congratulate her.
She set off at 6.20am from Stewart Island, and just under nine hours later she came ashore at a beach near Shag Rock.
Hannah’s mother Jane, who was waiting at the Bluff Ferry Terminal, said she had witnessed her daughter run up the beach and dance.
“I thought she would be crawling.”
Mrs Morgan said she followed her daughter’s progress for the last hour aboard the accompanying coastguard boat.
Hannah confirmed she had danced because she “so happy not to be in the water anymore”.
She was adamant that she would not swim the strait again as it was “something that I have ticked off”.
Morgan said she was so overwhelmed with the support, kindness and generosity she had received.
“I could never have imagined such an outcome and I am just so, so grateful.”
The Givealittle page set up for the swim showed around 4pm more than $21,000 had been raised.
Oreti Lifesaving Club members and her swim coach Lisa Pankhurst manned an Inflatable Rescue Boat and travelled alongside her.
John van Leeuwen was the first person to cross the strait in 1963 in a time of 13 hours, 36 minutes.