Banana Boat Ocean Swim

swimmers wearing wetsuits are running out of the ocean, as part of an ocean swim race

For 12 years, Banana Boat New Zealand’s Ocean Swim Series has been hosting open water swimming events around the country for all swimmers – from first-timers to the very competitive. And they continue to keep their line-up exciting and challenging by adding events – including the new Amphibian series, and a 5km swim in Rotorua – their longest swim yet.

Here, Ocean Swim’s chief, Scott Rice, chats to us about his passion for swimming, what’s new, and how you can get into open water swimming this summer.

Image © Banana Boat Ocean Swim

What’s your why?

Swimming’s been a huge part of my life. I learnt to swim at an early age, and my whole family were into swimming. I swam competitively for about 15 years.

With the Banana Boat NZ Ocean Swim Series, I wanted to give other people the opportunity to swim, or encourage others to improve their swimming and get out there. We have a range of distances – from 500m to 5km – so it suits everyone, from people wanting to tick off an open water swim from their bucket list, right through to swimmers who are at the top of their game.

What’s great about open water swimming?

It takes you out of your comfort zone, into the outdoors, and you can switch off in ways you probably can’t in a pool. You’re at one with nature and there are no walls so you don’t have to turn around and swim back. It’s great to swim around islands, across a harbour or to a lighthouse. It’s a real sense of achievement beating your personal best or completing the event. It’s exhilarating when you finish.

New Zealand has some fantastic places to swim – Mount Maunganui and Omaha are two of my favourites. Overseas, Fiji has some beautiful spots – anywhere with clear and warm water makes for great swimming.

What’s new?

This 2018/2019 season we’re launching the Amphibian Series which combines swimming and running. We know that multi-sport events are really popular, and we’ve got some spectacular venues where we have our swims, so it’s easy to add running. We want to encourage new people to get involved and our swimmers are keen for a new challenge too!

Our very first Amphibian event will be at the Generation Homes Sand to Surf on 9th February at the legendary Mount Maunganui, with a 500m swim, followed by a 4km run around the base of the Mount. Then on 16th March, at the Generation Homes Legend of the Lake in Rotorua, there will be a 1.5km swim across the Blue Lake, then a 3km forest run, followed by a final 500m swim around the Blue Lake shoreline.

Start swimming this summer

Your local pool will have resources if you want to learn to swim or improve your swimming. Swimming relies on good technique so it’s good to get your technique checked and make some adjustments before you head out into the open water.

We partner with other events around the country – there are plenty of swimming coaches you can access or local squads in pools that you can join. And, we have a program for first-timers – from getting off the couch to completing a 500 metre swim. Take a look at our website for this and all our other events.

The Banana Boat New Zealand Ocean Swim series events run right through summer – we started on December 1st in the Bay of Islands. Challenge yourself, have fun, and see you out there!

For more information about the Banana Boat Ocean Swim Series, visit


Two Sparrows provides website support, development and design to Ocean Swim.