Hayden Squance seizes his opportunity and nabs first sea swim series win
It hasn't been an easy summer so far for the Port Nelson Sea Swim Series. Bad weather has dogged the series since it began at the start of November, but apart from a cancellation two weeks ago the clouds have miraculously parted each week just before race start.
It was the same last night. Cold wind and rain gave way to a calm and sunny swim - a good omen for Hayden Squance, who has placed second at every swim this season.
In a breakthrough performance. Squance swam stroke for stroke with Thomas Heaton, unbeaten this year, before breaking away in the final sprint to record his first win in the series, clocking 11 minutes and 43 seconds for the kilometre, six seconds ahead of Heaton.
The pair had a good break on the rest of the field, but with a shorter race to leave time for the Christmas barbecue, swimmers soon began to pour in.
Jody Keefe-Laing (12.19) was a second ahead of Luke Kelly, with Matt Hansen (12.32), Hamish Neill (12.39), Talya Harwood (12.51), Simon Kneebone (12.56), Caitlin Delany (12.58) and Jon Linyard (12.59) bringing up the top ten.
Glen Findlay (13.23) just edged the top M60-69 competitor Ben Van Dyke (13.32)
It's been an unusual feature of this year's competition that many of the top young swimmers have shed their wetsuits in preparation for Swim NZ open water competition.
Heaton, Kelly, Harwood and Delany were all in this category, making their achievement all the more meritorious.
Christine Harris (13.20) was next, the F50-59 competitor still a match for most younger swimmers.
Long distance triathlete Britta Martin was fourth of the women, finishing in 13min 38sec, ahead of Georgie Trengrove (13.46), Kerry Mathieson (14.03), Wendy Healey (15.00) and Megan Falloon (15.14).
While 116 swimmers chose the longer swim option, another 27 took on the 500m short swim.
Finella Gibbs-Beal continued her winning streak in exactly seven minutes, with Zara Ayon (7.07) and Caitlin Huhu (7.19) not far behind.
Josh Sheridan (7.28) and Reuben Lile (7.48) made it a clean sweep of the early placings by under-16 swimmers.
Robert Sheridan (7.49) led the more mature part of the field, ahead of Lisa Healey (8.24), Jessica Alloway (8.53) and Mandy Medcalf-Stephens (8.59).
Swimmers take a break next week for Christmas Eve, before resuming on New Year's Eve.