John van Leeuwen

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John van Leeuwen, the first successful swimmer across the Foveaux Strait in New Zealand
Foveaux Strait in New Zealand
John van Leeuwen, a Dutch immigrant living in New Zealand, made the first successful crossing of the Foveaux Strait on 7 February 1963 in 13 hours 40 minutes. A member of the Oreti Surf Life Saving Club, van Leeuwen was inspired to swim the strait by Barrie Devenport who was the first man to swim Cook Strait a few months earlier.

Foveaux Strait

Foveaux Strait is a 16-mile strait that separates Stewart Island/Rakiura, New Zealand's third largest island, from the South Island. The strait is a rough and often treacherous stretch of water. The strait is about 130 km long (from Ruapuke Island to Little Solander Island), and it widens (from 14 km at Ruapuke Island to 50 km at Te Waewae Bay) and deepens (from 20 to 120 m) from east to west.

Channel Swimming

Successful swimmers include:

1. John van Leeuwen, 7 February 1963 (Bluff to Stewart Island in 13:40)
2. Meda McKenzie, 20 March 1979 (Bluff to Stewart Island in 14:00)
3. Belinda Shields, 24 March 1984 (Bluff to Stewart Island in 9:53)
4. Michael Quinlivan, 13 February 1985 (Bluff to Stewart Island in 9:41)
5. Sandra Blewett, 11 February 1988 (Bluff to Stewart Island in 12:50)
6. Todd Utteridge, 15 February 1989 (Bluff to Stewart Island in 8:40)
7. Wayne Evans, 11 February 2013 (Stewart Island to Bluff in 9:20 with a wetsuit)

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