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Scottish swimmer sets record between New Zealand islands

Andy Donaldson, 31, swam through the night to complete the 23km route in four hours and 33 minutes.

It was the third leg of seven comprising the Oceans Seven challenge.

The Ayrshire man has already broken the British record for swimming the English Channel and became the first Scottish male to swim from Ireland to Scotland.

He waited over three weeks for the right wind conditions before setting off from Wellington, at the bottom of New Zealand's North Island, just before midnight on 7 March.

The body of water across to Picton, at the top of the country's South Island, is known for its great white sharks and strong tides.

Wearing just "a pair of Speedos, goggles and a swim cap" - competitors are not allowed to use wetsuits - Donaldson said it was "pretty surreal" swimming under the moon and stars.

BBC reports he beat the previous record, which had stood for 15 years, by just four minutes.

"For something of that distance to come down to the wire like that made for an exciting and nerve-wracking finish, but fortunately I got there under the old time," he told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme.

"The Cook Strait is a challenge in itself. It's very windy down there - as anybody who has been to Wellington will know - and the weather in that channel almost acts like a wind tunnel.

"It is also very tidal and the temperatures were probably down to similar to back home in Scotland - around 14C.

"It was a long time to be exposed to that cold water, but fortunately I survived with all my limbs intact.

"Swimming through the hours of darkness was a nerve-wracking experience, but we couldn't have asked for a better swim."

The Oceans Seven features the toughest and most iconic channel swims in the world, ranging in distance from 20km to 44km.

Andy, originally from West Kilbride, North Ayrshire, is aiming to complete all seven legs of the epic 200km challenge in the space of a year, something never achieved before.

Last August he swam across the English Channel in eight hours to break a 25-year-old British record, before completing the North Channel from Northern Ireland to Portpatrick in September in nine hours.

His next swim, sometime during a 10-day window in April, will see him tackle the 42km Molokai Channel in Hawaii.

Photo supplied Caption: Andy Donaldson swam through the night to achieve his latest record-breaking feat