Record turnout for sea swim series opener

Top male swimmer Thomas Heaton leaves the water at the opening night of the Port Nelson Sea Swims.
EMILY TRENGROVE

Top male swimmer Thomas Heaton leaves the water at the opening night of the Port Nelson Sea Swims.

Summer seems to be reluctant to move in. The sun is shining, but the temperature clings sullenly to its familiar winter levels.

Thursday put on an beguiling face, with clear skies and very tempting sunshine.

It was enough to produce a record turnout for the opening night of the Port Nelson Sea Swim Series, as 162 turned out to race in surprisingly warms seas of just over 18 degrees.

It was obvious who had been training over the winter months as teenagers filled the first six positions in the longer race over 800m.

Thomas Heaton (16) put on the pace to touch the bottom in 8 minutes 38s seconds, 18 seconds ahead of triathlete Hayden Squance (17) and last year's series winner Luke Kelly (18), who finished in 9min 27sec.

Both Heaton and Kelly are preparing for the 2016 NZ Open Water Championships in Lake Taupo in January. Kelly chose to swim without a wetsuit, as will be required in Taupo, making his third place very meritorious, compared to the wetsuited opposition.

Xavier Anderson (14) finished with Kelly in 9min 28sec, marking him as a talent to be watched.

Female swimmers have found it hard to break into the top spots, but 15-year-old Caitlin Delany slipped in for fifth in 9min 34sec, ahead of 16-year-old Talya Harwood (9.36).

Jody Keefe-Laing broke the teen stranglehold to finish next in 9min 44sec, ahead of the first 50-59 man Hamish Neill (10.04) and top 40-49 competitor Jon Linyard (10.09), two seconds ahead of Simon Kneebone (10.11).

In the age groups, other to stand out were Gregoire Auphan (M30-39), Jess Hildyard (F30-39), and Kerry Mathieson (F40-49),

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Hamish Neil 10.04), a recent graduate to M50-59, celebrated by knocking last year's age group winner Denis Cooper back to second in that age group.

Christina Harris and Jude Vincent resumed their F50-59 competition, with Harris (10.52) clinching it by six seconds.

Ben Van Dyke assumed the mantle of his world championship status, leading home the M60-69 group, while Derek Eaton did the same in M70-79.

Andres Martin overcame some dodgy navigation to win the short race over 300m in 4min 29sec, ahead of Finella Gibbs-Beal (4.34), Reuben Lile (4.58), Nic Hall (5.11) and Chris Biggam (5.18).

With more than 200 signed up so far for the summer series, it looks like there are some busy Thursdays ahead.

For results and more information, check nelsonseaswims.co.nz

 - Stuff

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