Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) Sydney associate Colleen Engel-Mallon has taken up the challenge to swim the Cook Strait, one of the toughest stretches of water in the world separating the North and South islands of New Zealand. Engel-Mallon will swim the 26km stretch in mid-February 2020.

Describing the Cook Strait as a real ‘Everest challenge’ for marathon swimmers, Engel-Mallon says the swim was a real test on a personal, physical and psychological level.

“Treacherous currents and fierce storms present serious hazards. Depending on these factors, I could be swimming anytime from 14th – 21st February with the direction of the swim also subject to tides (North to South island or South to North island).”

By doing so, Engel-Mallon aims to send out a message about the threat of plastic pollution in oceans and the need for environmental action.

RLB is sponsoring Engel-Mallon on her swimming journey in 2020.

RLB Global Board member Stephen Mee commented, “We are proud to sponsor and support Colleen in her passion for open water swimming and in her efforts to reduce plastic pollution in our oceans.

“Colleen has been with RLB for seven years and has made a wonderful contribution to our Engineering Services division, working on significant projects such as the Sydney Opera House, the new South Wales Art Gallery extension – Sydney Modern, the Sydney Fish Markets redevelopment, Westconnex and Sydney Metro.”

As she prepares for the Cook Strait swim, Engel-Mallon has already set her sights on completing a two-way 70km+ solo crossing (double-crossing) of the notoriously difficult North Channel and set a world record.

She has already completed the North Channel solo crossing in 2014, and holds the 3rd fastest overall time.

“As an openwater swimmer, I feel that I need to take more responsibility for the state of our oceans. I get so much enjoyment from the sea and the incredible wildlife that it sustains. Sadly, we live in a world where more than a third of the world’s sea turtles are said to have plastic waste in their stomachs,” she says.

“So while this journey is about swimming adventures, I’m also asking fellow ocean lovers, in our industry and beyond, to support efforts (either by donating or reducing personal/ business plastic use) to help stem the tide of plastic pollution in our oceans.”

Through her swimming efforts, Engel-Mallon aims to raise funds for the Sea Shepherd’s Marine Debris Campaign.