Thomas Heaton wins latest round of the Port Nelson Sea Swim Series
After an absence of a few weeks from the Port Nelson Sea Swim Series, Thomas Heaton came back with an impressive win on Thursday night.
The 1500m triangular course combined relative calm with a choppy final leg against the tide for 129 competitors, with another 25 choosing a shorter option of about 500m.
Heaton cut out the longer course in 14 minutes 40 seconds, well clear of Hayden Squance (16.51).
Luke Kelly chose to swim without a wetsuit but pushed Squance all the way, finishing in 17min 4sec, ahead of Terry Bone (17.10) and Matai McGuinniety (17.51).
Like Kelly, Talya Harwood competed in the national open water championships in Taupo last weekend. Also competing without a wetsuit, Harwood was sixth to finish in 17min 55sec, just over a minute ahead of the second woman, Kerry Mathieson (18.59).
Christina Harris (19.09) and Jude Vincent (19.13) continued their battle for dominance of F50-59 with 13-year-old Leah Friend (19.41) the fifth woman to finish.
Close finishes were a feature of the night's racing, with just seconds separating groups of competitors.
Derek Eaton showed he's a force to be reckoned with, the 74-year-old finishing in 20min 45sec for 30th place, a second behind 36-year-old Greg Dykzeul and a second ahead of 55-year-old Ironman competitor Wayne Leighton. Eaton's next major challenge is to rewrite some national age group records in pool swimming later this month.
The short race once again demonstrated the egalitarian nature of sea swimming, with competitors of all ages on an even footing.
Three competitors opened a substantial lead over the field, with 11-year-old Finella Gibbs-Beal winning in 6min 45sec from 46-year-old Pogo McAuley (7.04) and 44-year-old Steve Bryant (7.28).
Under-16 swimmers Jessica Alloway (8.35) and Katherine Withers (8.39) were next to finish.
Full results, nelsonseaswims.co.nz