Grandfather and grandson alongside each other in Across the River Swim

30 Mar 2021

Every year the annual Mercury Bay Area School Across the River Swim throws up something a little out of the ordinary, a bit heart-warming or surprising. And this year’s swim, held on Friday last week, was no different.  

It is a decades-old tradition for intermediate and senior school students to swim across the Whitianga Estuary mouth from Ferry Landing to the Whitianga Wharf. And it is a tradition that the school is very proud of. Some years ago, one mother decided to do the swim alongside her Year 7 daughter. It was something she continued to do until her daughter left school seven years later. This year,  it was something similar - except skipping a generation. Despite his venerable age, Whitianga  grandfather, Arnold Leigh, decided he wanted to swim alongside his Year 11 grandson, Ruben Leigh, aged 15. 

Just days short of his 80th birthday, Arnold swam stroke for stoke with Ruben in a great show of bonding with his grandson. “I decided to do this swim because it got me out of my comfort zone,” Arnold said. “It was a challenge for me, it was different. It was the first time I have done it.”  

Ruben was delighted to be accompanied by his grandfather. “I was pretty stoked when he said he wanted to swim with me” he said. “We have a really good relationship and it was cool to do the swim with my granddad.”  

Pictured: Arnold and Ruben just before the swim.