Kiwi teen plans 300km ocean swim to raise money for youth mental health
Following his mammoth Black Dog Swim, twice the length of Marlborough’s Queen Charlotte Sound in 2020, teenager George Glover has fallen into the norms of being a university student.
Not much is happening in the weekends apart from drinking, and the flat is always cold. So George has been wondering, “why not start the uni year off in 2023 with a challenge?”
The Upper East Coast of the South Island is one of the most exposed pieces of coastlines in New Zealand. The multiple currents acting on this piece of the Pacific Ocean are more likely to be home to whales and other less salubrious sea creatures than a smelly third-year Canterbury University student.
“So why not swim it?” George says.
Beginning at New Brighton Pier, the 20-year-old plans to swim north, following the coastline until he reaches Blenheim’s Whites Bay some 15-20 days and 300km later.
With extreme tides and precarious weather to contend with, George is planning to time the tides, winds, and currents to his advantage during his 7-9 hour swim stages, with sleep breaks on a support boat. Kaikoura will be a halfway point for the vessel to refuel and restock, though George will remain at sea – not touching land until his final destination.
“This is by far the most challenging adventure I’ve dreamt up. The cause I have chosen is one that’s close to my heart and that I’m familiar with,” George says.
He has set a goal of raising $100,000 for Mike King’s I am Hope charity throughout the swimming endeavour, supporting the charity’s work providing positive attitudinal societal change around mental health throughout New Zealand, and funding private care and counselling for young people stuck-in-the-mud on waiting lists.
The funds raised will provide more than 800 counselling sessions for New Zealand’s most at-risk youth.
This isn’t the first time George has tackled an extraordinary challenge for youth mental health. His Black Dog Swim raised more than $60,000 for I Am Hope in 2020 by swimming the 61.5km length of the Queen Charlotte Sound and back again, totalling 123km. To date he remains the only swimmer to have tackled this extraordinary swim – five times the Cook Strait swim distance.
In 2021 George gathered his uni mates to stage New Zealand’s first Cricket Marathon, raising $45,000 for I Am Hope while running a marathon in an overnight game of backyard cricket.
His next endeavour is his biggest yet, and George is now seeking commercial partners to both help him swim safely and smash his fundraising goal.
“To pull off this challenge we want to align with New Zealand-based brands to further the sense of community we have in New Zealand,” he says.
Money aside, George admits that part of his goal is to inspire young New Zealanders to dream big and work hard to fulfil their goals. “Just because this has never been attempted before doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I just hope I don’t forget to pay the rent.!” George says.
George’s East Coast swim will commence on 28 January 2023 and run through to approximately 19 February.