City amputee tackles longest lake swim

IT takes a remarkable person to swim nearly 4km in chilly Lake Wakatipu, but to call Melanie Ryding remarkable is something of an understatement.

Swim exit.. prosthetic leg on over wetsuit
Amputee Melanie Ryding exits the water at last month’s Challenge Wanaka

Five months after having her left leg amputated, the self-employed personal trainer from Invercargill is tackling the longest swim in this Saturday’s The Wakatipu Legend event.

The 49-year-old English native, who emigrated to New Zealand eight years ago, lost her leg after a long surgical battle with a vascular issue.

A former British age group triathlon representative, she said swimming was the only sport she can do at the moment, so she’s entering as many events as she can.

Her first event as a para athlete was the 2.5km at the Ruby Swim event in Lake Wanaka in January, which she followed up with the swim leg at last month’s Challenge Wanaka.

She’ll be among 170 swimmers at the inaugural The Wakatipu Legend, which also features a 1km Bay Swim and a 1.9km Beacon Swim, both of which start on the beach in Queenstown Bay.

Ryding will start the 3.8km swim in Frankton Arm by the Ruawaka catamaran, finishing in Queenstown Bay, with entrants being taken to the start by boat.

It’s the only category she could enter because the others start on the beach.

She was inspired to take up triathlons in her 30s after reading a book about a cancer sufferer who competed in the sport.

After taking swimming lessons as part of her preparation, within six months she was racing at age group level for Great Britain at European and world level.

On Saturday, The Legend Swim entrants will be the first to set off, at 8.15am and have two hours to complete the course.