Shawn dominates 1km ocean swim

Last updated 10:37 31/01/2013

Open water: Capital Classic 1km ocean swim winner Shawn O'Hara of Levin.

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A Levin 13-year-old has walked away with two gold medals from his first-ever ocean swim race.

Shawn O'Hara won the 1km event at the Capital Classic, one of seven races in the New Zealand Ocean Swim Series, in Wellington on Sunday.

Too young for the main 3.3km race, Shawn competed in the 1km event from Oriental Bay Beach to Freyberg Beach.

He was one of 240 swimmers, winning overall as well as the under-14 boys category, with a time of 13 minutes and three seconds.

No one was more surprised than his parents Alex O'Hara and Betty McIntyre.

Mr O'Hara said at one stage they looked over and saw the leading swimmer approaching the finish line and thought "that looks a bit like Shawn, but no it can't be".

"So we didn't even see him win. The first we knew was when we turned around to see him standing on the beach being interviewed," said Mr O'Hara.

"We certainly didn't expect it, but it was a great result and he did really well, especially being his first ocean race."

Shawn, a member of the Levin Swimming Club, is more used to competing in the pool.

However, he enjoyed the experience in the ocean and is keen to do more events.

"It's quite different, swimming in saltwater wearing a wetsuit which gives you more buoyancy," he said. "But you have to pace yourself more and also navigate your way around the course - there are no lines on the bottom of a pool to follow."

Shawn said about halfway through the swim, he paused to look around, expecting to see many swimmers ahead of him.

When he saw only one, Lewis Clareburt, 13, of Wellington, he thought they may have swum the wrong way, until he realised they were leading the race.

"I just followed Lewis and then, near the end, sprinted past him and beat him by six seconds."

The Capital Classic 3.3km elite race was won by Rotorua's Kane Radford (38:09) with Taranaki's Charlotte Webby the first female and fifth overall (40:18).

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- Horowhenua Mail

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