Sarah CatherallMay 12 Kim Chambers sets out to push her body to extreme limits, and hopes to inspire people, especially young girls, to be the best versions of themselves. Waking up in a hospital bed, Chambers was diagnosed with a rare condition called Acute Compartment Syndrome. Just two weeks before the swim, Kim Chambers' Australian training partner attempted the same swim but was hauled out of the water when a shark began circling him.
Determined to make her first ocean marathon swim in New Zealand, inshe powered across the Cook Strait, pods of dolphins journeying beside her. In the world of extreme marathon swimming, the 30 miles of shark-infested waters between the Farallon Islands and San Francisco is the most difficult stretch to cross. Chambers' Farallon Islands swim was an emotional journey for everyone, including her mother, Jocelyn, who hung over the boat and watched her daughter ploughing through the choppy waves in the dark of night.
Back in San Francisco, she spent three days in a cardiac ward. You do not need to like swimming or even be a swimmer to relate to this story. The plucky blonde has twice faced death, the first time inbefore she had even hopped into a swimming pool or swum in the open water. Ocean swimming is a tough sport. The former ballerina who grew up on a sheep farm in the King Country has done what no other woman has yet achieved: swum the world's most difficult ocean swim, from the shark-ridden Farallon Islands 30 miles off the coast of San Francisco to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Since then, swimming has taken her around the world, as she has swum from one country to the next: from Jordan to Israel across the Dead Sea, and from Europe to Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar. Dark water swirling beneath her, she knew sharks could be near.
She refused to accept the diagnosis, heading to her local swimming pool for rehabilitation. Webber, a photographer and ocean swimmer, says: "This is a film about the incredible resilience and triumph of the human spirit. But this sport attracts really stubborn people.
A fellow swimmer challenged her to try ocean swimming. After many of her swims, she has needed medical treatment, and at times has been admitted to hospital. Screening in Wellington tomorrow and Auckland during the Doc Edge Festival, the marathon ocean swimmer hopes her story will inspire. About 10 per cent of the world's shark attacks happen on that dangerous and difficult stretch of water. She will only say this.
Until Augustonly four people, all men, had finished the Farallon Islands swim. Chambers tells her story too, at Ted X in Catalina, and at speaking events, while she is also writing a book about her Farallon Islands swim. Kate Webber.
Doctors told her she could have died. Nominated for a Halberg award inshe says: "I want to grow as a human being and be the best version of myself. I'm not a daredevil. The surgeons saved her right leg with just 30 minutes to spare, warning her she had just a 1 per cent chance of walking again.
Afterwards, her body went into toxic shock. Ploughing through sea swell in San Francisco Bay, Chambers found her happy place. Afterwards, she was taken to hospital and put on a drip, suffering from dehydration. The expat New Zealand swimmer sobs, tears mixing with sea water. People have asked me why I didn't get back on the boat.
I want to show young girls what we are capable of. About 10 per cent of the world's shark attacks happen near the Falloran Islands.
The swimmer shakes her ponytail as she sits on a chair in her apartment, admitting that even she can't believe she did that. The first woman to complete the world's most difficult ocean swim: Kiwi Kim Chambers. This is the moment she has spent years preparing for. Now 40, Chambers has the steely focus of a woman with incredible mental determination. The accident, she says, was the best thing that ever happened to her.
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The film tagline says this: "Nothing is impossible if you're brave enough to say yes. Ocean swimming doesn't come with trophies or gongs.
If she achieves it, she will be the first Kiwi and the first woman to nail it. And while it is about a woman athlete, made by a female film-maker, my hope is that everyone can relate to the story, regardless of gender. Personable but humble, she doesn't have medals hanging in her apartment.
More at kimswims. Kim Chambers holds her head out of the freezing cold water and stares at the Golden Gate Bridge. I hope that people realise I was really scared to jump in that water. Just two weeks before the swim, her Australian training partner attempted the same swim but was hauled out of the water when a shark began circling him. Since she grew up with two brothers on a sheep farm south of Te Kuiti, Chambers had been a ballerina, a rower, and a gym bunny, a doer who loved moving her body.
My body had taken quite a beating. Within a year, she had completed three of the Oceans Seven Challenge swims, so set out to do the whole mile, seven swim challenge.
She tells Your Weekend it wasn't easy, learning her sport at the same time as she was learning to walk again. Racing to work, she fell down the stairs. She didn't see a single shark, but she did vomit for most of the swim.
I show you that anything is possible. Just with my own limitations," she smiles. While the English Channel gets all the attention, more than swimmers have crossed its bitterly cold waters. The scene is shown in a film, Kim Swimsabout the athlete's world record swim.
Swimming across the North Channel inshe was stung by jelly fish and hypothermic by the time she touched land. It's really special to unofficially represent my country doing this," she says. What's next, when she has conquered the toughest goal in ocean swimming?
Swimmers aren't allowed to wear a wetsuit, or to don flippers or fins. Living in the United States since she was 17, when she headed over to Berkeley University to study an MA in science, she uses any downtime to plan her next adventure. After the swim, I did think my swimming days were over though. She's excited the film is coming home.
Speaking by video from her apartment high on San Francisco's hills, it's now more than two years since Chambers swam for 17 hours through 17 degree water wearing nothing but a black swimsuit emblazoned with the silver fern. Like other marathon ocean swimmers, Chambers has to pile on weight before a challenge for insulation. I was so cold and I was having major trouble breathing.