Swimmers to unite for Christchurch victims

By Rahia Timutimu

Swimmers all over the world will come together to fundraise for those that were affected in Friday’s terrorist attacks in Christchurch.

Rotorua’s Henk Greupink came up with the idea whilst supporting his friend who was swimming between Auckland and Waiheke Island to raise funds for Auckland’s rescue helicopter.

“I was out on the water in a kayak and the idea just came to me when I saw something written on the inside of his arm,” says Greupink.

“He had the saying ‘we are one, they are us’ and I thought ‘This is cool this is his tribute, what can I do?'  So I came up with the 50x50 at 50.  I told several people, 'I can’t sing, I can’t do the haka, I don’t do flowers',” laughs Greupink, “'so this is my way to help those that have been affected'.”

The 50 symbolises the 50 lives that have been lost in the terrorist attacks, swimmers will swim 50 lengths of a 50 metre pool at 50 second intervals.

He posted the idea on his social media page and instantly got support.

“I put it up on my Facebook page and a friend of in Tauranga said he wanted to do the same. So I thought maybe more coaches could be interested.  I had a message from the local aquatic centre that they would make the pool available, and can enter with a gold coin instead of the pool entry fee.”

Since the initial idea he’s been contacted by clubs not only nationwide but worldwide.

“The word got out fast through our networks,” explains Greupink, “I’ve been contacted by many clubs, from Whakatane to Hawkes Bay, Poverty Bay and Karori.  Even around the world, swimmers in Fiji, America and England are jumping on board, it’s gone viral!”

He says that you don’t have to be a professional swimmer to do the challenge, and it’s all for a good cause.

“Anyone can do it, my masters swimmers were doing it this morning, all the squads in Wellington did it in Butterfly ][stroke], and even people have asked to do it in teams, which I don’t mind as long as there’s 50 involved,” says Greupink, “I did however make the comment that if you can’t swim it you can always donate 50 dollars.”

Rotorua Aquatic Centre will open their centre from 6pm to 9pm tonight, with all proceeds going towards to those affected in last week’s attacks.