New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame > Inductees > Barrie Devenport

Barrie Devenport

(1935 - )

Barrie Devenport
The challenge to be the first in recorded history - there are unsubstantiated tales of Maori swimming the strait in pre-European times - to swim Cook Strait was likened to other sporting challenges such as Roger Bannister’s first sub-four minute mile and Sir Edmund Hillary’s conquest of Everest.

Wellington surf lifesaver Barrie Devenport was the first to overcome the challenge on November 20, 1962, when he swam from Cape Terawhiti in the North Island to Wellington Rock in the South in 11 hours and 13 minutes.

The swim gained national attention and instant fame for Devenport: among his rewards were a television set and a truckload of manure.

The strait has since been swum many times, and there have been double and triple crossings, but none match the sense of achievement and national excitement of Devenport’s pioneering swim.
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