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30-Day Winter Swim Challenge to Support Young Kiwis

30-Day Winter Swim Challenge to Support Young Kiwis through Grief


A 46 year-old cancer survivor, living with Parkinson’s and a degenerative heart condition, cardiomyopathy, has embarked a 30-day winter swim challenge to support young kiwis through grief.

Nic Russell, described as a good natured Irish loon by her friends, decided to do a 30-day winter swim challenge to raise funds for Kenzie's Gift, the charity she set up after her 3 year old daughter Kenzie died in 2005, to support young kiwis facing serious illness or bereavement.

“As a result of COVID-19, like many charities, we have had pressure on our service, with quite a few of our young clients feeling increasingly anxious and stressed given they have already experienced a death of someone close to them. All the news about COVID-19 is exacerbating things,” says Nic

To help raise awareness of the impact of loss, and also the need for ongoing donations to help support the work of Kenzie’s Gift, Nic decided that for every day in June, come rain, wind or (hopefully) shine, she will don her togs and get into the sea for a bracing wintry swim.

Nic says, “Before my heart started to fail and my diagnosis of Parkinson's, I embarked on many sporting challenges to fundraise; marathons, ocean swims, adventure races...I enjoyed supporting others while challenging was good to feel alive.

“But Cardiomyopathy and Parkinson's changed all that, and I thought, what can I do now...then I had a light-bulb moment. While I can't swim the way I used to, I can challenge my malfunctioning body in a new way and push my capabilities. That's where the idea of winter swimming came from.”

To support Nic’s winter swim challenge, please visit:

Notes to the editor:

Kenzie’s Gift is a registered NZ Charity (CC21425), which supports the mental health of young kiwis and their families facing serious illness or bereavement.

Services provided:

• One on one therapy with registered mental health professionals

• Grief packs for families

• Childhood cancer packs

• Extensive online resources (

Renowned NZ psychologist, Nigel Latta, is Kenzie’s Gift Ambassador.

© Scoop Media

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