02 April 2015

New Zealand Swimmer Ready To Cross The Dardanelles

As far as sporting disciplines go, Penny Hayes has tipped her toes in quite a few.

The 24-year-old university athlete from New Zealand will be competing in open water swimming at the upcoming Gallipoli Games.

The Games will feature 500 university athletes from seven different countries as part of the 100th year anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli.

At the age of 10, Penny started swimming lessons and quickly got into competitive swimming.

By the time she was 18, she was a triathlete.

“While enjoying swimming for a long time, I lost the motivation and enjoyment of it and changed to triathlon,” she says.

“I absolutely love triathlon, and the enjoyment of three different disciplines. However, injury has stopped me from being able to run for the last eight months so I have changed my focus to open water swimming.”

Now, the Kiwi will compete against swimmers from six other countries heading to Gallipoli for the inaugural Games.

The swimmers will cross the Dardanelles in an inter-continental wetsuit swim, starting at Eceabat Beach on the Gallipoli Peninsula and concluding at the Canakkale Pier.

They will be covering a total distance of 3.5 miles.

The Dardanelles is a historically significant channel: it’s that which Allied forces wanted to pass through to capture Istanbul, the then capital of the Ottoman Empire, to end a stalemate on the Western Front during the First World War.

Now, 100 years on, the same location is being used for a competition with a peace-driven objective.

“For me, Gallipoli signifies a place where many ANZACs fought for our country, and where many lost their lives in doing so,” says Penny.

“It holds so much history and being able to be amongst a 100th year anniversary is a once in a life time opportunity.”

Gallipoli Games will be held between April 25 and April 29 in Çanakkale.