As part of the Te Whai Oranga strategy, the Council have been looking into how people use recreational space within the city and how they find their happy places in Pōneke.
The group the Hardcore Oceanics: The Mermaid Express Swim Squad, or HOTMESS for short, started as a group chat between four mums with a shared love for ocean swimming. Two years later, HOTMESS is a community of more than 50 people, and they found their happy place in the city’s beaches and bays.
One of the group’s members Sophie Hazelhurst was roped in by the founder of HOTMESS and now has a goal of hitting 201 swims in a year, even though she had never been an ocean swimmer before joining the group.
“I have always loved the sea and spent plenty of time in the water but usually just faffing about - a bit of boogie boarding/body surfing, but never actually swimming. I had been a bit of a pool swimmer in the past so was a reasonable swimmer, although slow.
“Swimming in the sea is so different - the conditions change constantly and the cold in our southern Wellington waters takes your breath away at first. I'm loving the journey that 201 swims is taking me on. I'm up to 90 now and it's a brilliant motivator for me on days that are busy or cold or when I would rather lie on the couch.”