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Vale Sandra Blewett

Remembering Sandra Blewett's Contribution to Swimming

Sandra Blewett passed away peacefully on the 1st of January 2024 aged 74, having lived a life that gave so much to swimming and dedicating her life both in and out of the water. Her commitment to sport and the community will be forever missed.


Sandra contributed to the development of Para sport in New Zealand for over 25 years in many roles. She served as the NZ Para swimming classifier from 1996 to 2022. She was the Executive Director for Parafed Auckland (now Disability Sport Auckland) from 1998 to 2003. Further to this, she was a Paralympics New Zealand Board member from 2001 to 2008. In 2022, Paralympics New Zealand awarded Sandra the PNZ Order of Merit for outstanding service to Paralympics New Zealand and Para sport in New Zealand.


Sandra was an advanced swimming instructor and coach for non-disabled and disabled swimmers, a role she began in 1971. She has coached Paralympians in their early days, and in addition to other athletes, she was committed to teaching the fundamental skills of swimming.


She was also an impressive athlete in her own right, having swum over 56 marathon swims around the world. The talented long-distance swimmer was awarded an MBE in 1992 for services to marathon swimming.

Her passion for long-distance swimming saw her achieve a remarkable number of marathon swims within 11 years, Sandra was able to complete the following six marathon swims:

  • Catalina Channel: mainland to Catalina island

  • Lake Taupo: stump bay to Taupo

  • English Channel: France to England

  • Cook Strait: North Island to South Island

  • Lake Taupo: Taupo – waihi – Taupo

  • Foveaux Strait: South Island to Steward Island


Completing three historically important swims in New Zealand, Sandra was awarded the Triple Crown of Marathon swimming, a challenge that had only been completed by nine other individuals.


Sandra’s passing is a great loss to the swimming industry and profession. Sandra will be sadly missed by her many friends within the Paralympic movement and swimming community. Our thoughts are with Sandra’s family.


Rest in Peace Sandra and thank you for your legacy.

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