Eyebright swimmers enjoy Sunday calm

Sam Winward was the first female home and third overall in the Eyebright Mile.

Sam Winward was the first female home and third overall in the Eyebright Mile.

Things couldn't have been more perfect as 146 swimmers started in the 28th Eyebright Mile between the Nelson Yacht Club and Tahunanui Beach yesterday.

From the start, Luke Kelly struck out alone on the 2km swim, leaving Hayden Squance and Christchurch swimmer Sam Winward to battle for second place.

The perfect calm meant swimmers were able to get into a good even routine as they followed the straight line course past Haulashore Island and Fifeshire Rock for those breathing to the right, and the sights of Rocks Rd for those breathing to the left.

With the tide still marginally flowing in at the start of the race, the 1993 record was never under threat, with Kelly stopping the clock at 24 minutes 57 seconds.

As he did last year, Squance took the same course close to the sea wall, running across the beach to finish in 25.36, with Winward (F20-29) next in 25.41.

It's a busy season for the Christchurch swimmer - she's already recorded a win in the 10km Lake Hood swim, and finished fifth in the elite field at the Auckland Harbour Crossing last month. Next weekend she'll join Nelson swimmers Christina Harris and Derek Eaton in the 10km open water event at Lake Taupo.

Simon Kneebone continued his good form this season, winning the M40-49 section and coming in fourth overall in 26.18, ahead of M20-29 swimmer Jody Keefe-Laing (26.38).

After a top season last year, Amy Coulton hasn't appeared in any of the Port Nelson swims so far this season, but she showed good form in finishing sixth in 26.58, ahead of Matai McGuinniety (27.06).

Usually overshadowed by his older brother Kaiori, the quiet 14-year-old has been consistently near the front all season and shows promise of some good swims ahead.

Ben Van Dyke (64) romped home at the head of a strong M60-69 section for eighth overall in a time of 27.07, ahead of Pip Dwyer (27.14) and lead M50-59 swimmer Denis Cooper (27.29), who rounded out the top 10.

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Other age group winners were Jodie Lovell (F30-39), 17th overall in 28.55, Matt Newberry (M30-39), 18th in 28.59, Christina Harris (F50-59), 19th in 29.01, Kerry Mathieson (F40-49), 20th in 29.04, Derek Eaton (M70+), 26th in 29.45, and Margaret Johnston (F60-69), 48th in 32.02.

Thirteen swimmers chose the slightly shorter distance of 1300m from the Richardson St steps, with Charlie Perkins easing to a comfortable win in 21.39.

It was a long stretch for the 12-year-old, who has dominated the short swims in the Port Nelson Thursday night series for the past two years, but although he said it felt like a long way, he showed that he'll be ready for longer distances in the near future.

Mandy Medcalf-Stephens was second in 23.30, ahead of Neil Staite (24.23), Roger Matheson (24.32), Jane Hebberd (26.47) and 70-year-old Dick Jones (28.37).

A notable feature of the swim was the range of ages, from those not yet in their teens to 79-year-old Kerry Bateman, who finished in 50.53.

Results and photos online at nelsonseaswims.co.nz.

 - The Nelson Mail

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