We often share stories of our members' business success. This time we bring something a little different, featuring two legends who are going above and beyond to make a meaningful impact to a service we all depend on, St John. Introducing David Mitchell and Rick Wells (New Zealand sporting icon), who are taking part in the Great Barrier Challenge. Joined by ex All Black Ian Jones, Richard Hart and Karim Rostami in Feb/March 2021 this team of five will swim a 100km relay in the open ocean throughout day and night over the course of 24 hours from Great Barrier to Auckland, raising much needed funds for St John.
St John, an incredibly worthy cause, has been serving our communities for 160 years and needs help more than ever. We caught up with Rick and David to hear more about the event.
How did this mammoth challenge come about? What does the cause mean to you?
Rick has had this crazy idea for 2 years, swimming from Great Barrier Island into Auckland. It was the matter of putting a team together and we are lucky to have such a dedicated diverse team of Philanthropic individuals committed to the swim. As the swim started coming together and with 2 of the team having recently used the services of St John, combined with the increasing awareness through the media, we and all of the community came to realise that St John need the community to return the support we have had from them for 160 years.
What does the swim involve? Are there any unique challenges or circumstances you're preparing for?
The 5 of us will swim as a relay through the night. It is a very daunting task and combined with 24 hours duration it will test our resilience and endurance. So a very meaningful swim for a very meaningful cause.
What does your training regime look like in the lead up?
Time in the water, pool and sea, day and night time swims. We will all have to be at our peak to complete the challenge.
Tell us about your team. How have you come together and how does teamwork play a role in a relay challenge like this?
Being a team is very important. Rick was quite selective when looking at who to invite into the Challenge as it important that we are all similarly motivated. Being a team helps us all with training and bonding. We are lucky to have such a diverse team of philanthropical individuals who have come together for a common cause.
Rick, as an icon in NZ sport and swimming, how is this challenge set apart from others you've competed in?
Quite different. We are not 21 anymore. This challenge will take 20-24 hours to complete. The longest event I have done before is around 10 hours. All the other events were daylight events, this however will involve swimming during the middle of the night. This to me is the biggest challenge. You do not need much of an imagination for your mind to start racing of what is under you.
Are you cracking the whip when it comes to coaching the others?
No, we are five strong individuals that have come together for a good cause and a great challenge. We are challenging ourselves for a 24 hour period and taking ourselves out of our comfort zone, something St John do 24-7. I have known some these guys for 20 years and they are motivated enough without me cracking the whip. If anything it helps motivate me watching these guys accept the challenge when their swimming ability is not quite the same as mine.
David, no stranger to charity swims, last year you and Rick raised over $26,000 swimming 20km for Westpac Choppers. An amazing effort. How has swimming (and setting these ambitious goals) impacted your life?
It had a major impact on my life. The Waiheke Westpac Chopper swim introduced me to what I could do to give something back to the community. When Rick first suggested the Great Barrier Challenge I thought he was crazy! It still is a crazy thing to do. But my experience with St John over lockdown made me realise, yet again, how important St John are to us all. My focus is now to raise as much money as we can for them and in so doing it is going to challenge me physically and mentally, which as you get older is an important focus to continue to have. We are asking all of the NZ community to get behind the Great Barrier Challenge, support us to do it and in so doing contribute to the financial wellbeing of St John.
David, you have been an Asuwere Member for almost 2 years now, how does Asuwere suit your lifestyle?
I love it! I am a single 64 year old male who doesn’t know what to look for when putting a wardrobe together. Now I don’t have to. The range suits the “smart/casual” look I want, the quality is excellent and more importantly very comfortable and it allows me to buy through the seasons. I can visit Asuwere if I want and enjoy the in store experience or I can buy from home with the confidence that I will be delivered exactly what I want.
Hats off to you gents, an incredibly brave mission ahead. There is no doubt we can all get behind this great cause and every little bit you can donate will go a long way to helping St John and ensure this incredible institution gets the funding they deserve.