Peninsula swimmer Tina Hansen celebrates on the beach after completing the grueling

Triathlete takes plunge into rough water

Hawaii event was ‘toughest swim I’ve done’ says Hansen

A Peninsula woman was one of 871 swimmers – and only two Canadians – competing in the 45th annual Waikiki Rough Water Swim in Honolulu this month.

Tina Hansen took on the 3.84-km swim from Kaimana Beach, under Diamond Head to Kahanamoku Beach at the Hawaiian Hilton on Sept. 1, after hearing about the interesting history.

The longtime triathlete learned that the swim was the basis for the first modern long-distance triathlon event, the Hawaiian Iron Man swim, with participants completing the water portion, then moving on to the 180-km bike ride and a 42-km long marathon.

“I thought, ‘what is this Waikiki Rough Water?’” Hansen told Peace Arch News Friday. “It interested me.”

The 48-year-old registered massage therapist – who often trains with friends at White Rock’s East Beach – completed the swim in 1:33:38, finishing 468th overall and 17th out of 38 in her age group.

Starting at 8:30 a.m., waves of swimmers from all over the world, including the U.S., Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Germany and Spain, were sent out five minutes apart in groups of approximately 150.

Hansen is no stranger to open-water swimming, having completed the strenuous 8.5-mile Alcatraz Challenge twice – once in 2011 and again, earlier this year, with friend and Pacific Sea Wolves coach Karlene Clapham. The duo swam 1.5 miles, followed by a seven-mile out-and-back run under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Despite her experience and the favourable water and weather conditions, Hansen noted that this was the most difficult swim she completed, adding that strategy proved essential to get through the surf to the open water on the far side and back in again.

Along the route, there were more than 70 volunteers patrolling the swimmers by boat, jet-ski, kayak, outrigger canoe and stand-up paddle board – 20 of whom were professional emergency response personnel.

“This was the toughest swim I’ve done to date and I was proud to accomplish it,” she said. “Unfortunately, like so many things, now that I’ve done it, I’m thinking of ways I can do it better.”

Hansen, who has been involved with triathlons for approximately 20 years, says her profession plays a big role in her motivation to continue in the strenuous activity.

“I’m trying to practice what I preach. I try to promote good health in the clinic, and to promote it, I want to embody it,” she said. “I see so many patients who can’t do what they used to, for various reasons they’re limited.

“I’m completely able-bodied, so it seems rude to not use it. I can’t just sit on my butt, I got to use what I got.”

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