Tracy Clark (TC) is a Kiwi living in the Netherlands who has a dream to swim the English Channel. She is completing this challenge for three charities – Fairwork, an aniti-human trafficking organisation; the Breast Cancer Research Charity; and the Dalyan Dog Rehabilitation Centre.
Kea: Tell us what drove you to swim the English Channel:
TC: As a child I was always involved in local club swimming and championships. Long distance swimming wasn’t heavily promoted at that time. However, I always had that feeling I could swim all day! I distinctly remember listening to the live broadcast on the radio as Sandra Blewett made it across the Cook Strait in 1984. I was in awe of her and have never forgotten that. Now my boys are a bit older and with my husband Andy’s support, it’s possible for me to undertake what’s involved in training for such a big challenge.
Kea: How are Kiwis are helping you complete your challenge?
TC: My support crew is a mix of Dutch and Kiwis. My coach and mentor Irene Van Der Laan has swum the Channel solo 3 times and 1 time swam a double crossing – England-France-England. She swam around the time of Kiwi Phillip Rush and his now world record triple crossing! My husband Andy Clark has been my main support in all aspects of the Channel preparation and will be the ‘main man’ on the support boat. My brother-in-law Stuart Clark from Christchurch is also flying over to crew and support me on the boat.
Kea: Tell us about the expat network in the Netherland:
TC: Our boys go to a local international school (Violenschool International Primary School) which has around 30 different nationalities of children. The school encourages our differences and we celebrate this on a regular basis with a yearly International Food Fair. Each International Book Week I read Maori Legends to the children – Whakapapa always takes some explaining! One year whilst I was reading at book week, one of the Indian mums was making Henna drawings on the children’s’ hands to celebrate Diwali – a world first I would say! Our whole community also came together during the time of the Christchurch and Japan earthquakes. I organised a Sushi/Bake Sale and we raised €4,000 for the New Zealand and Japanese Red Cross. The Kea expat community is also very strong with many new friends all over The Netherlands.
Kea: How can the Kea network help you?
TC: This article will help tremendously to support my challenge and raise money for my chosen charities. I will also be the 13th New Zealander to swim The Channel, in the year 2013 and I’m born on the 13th so my lucky number is 13 – we hope it’s a good omen!
Kea: What is the best part of being a Kea member?
TC: We became aware of Kea after living in The Netherlands for about 5 years and joined the local network. Since joining we have met so many interesting and entrepreneurial Kiwis living here. We join in on as many social get togethers as possible. The main highlight is the Kiwi Christmas Dinner at the New Zealand Ambassador’s Residence in Wassenaar, near The Hague. George and Hilary Troup always make us very welcome. We are served gourmet pies, ham on the bone and pavlova – a real treat when you’re away from New Zealand! Our boys Alexander and Connor love going too.
Kea: How do you support New Zealand business in The Netherlands?
TC: We buy any New Zealand wine we can get our hands on and Buzzy Bee every time someone has a baby! We are also partners with Rod Jenden with Wet and Forget Netherlands and will launch Wet and Forget here once compliance and local regulations have been met. We are very excited about bringing these great Kiwi products to Europe.
Kea: Do you have any plans to return home permanently?
TC: Never say never – not in the near future with our new exciting Wet and Forget Netherlands venture. The Cook Strait would be another amazing swim challenge…
Show your support for Tracy’s challenge by donating to one of the three charities she is fundraising for.