Kaiori McGuinniety retained his unbeaten record in the Port Nelson Sea Swim Series last night, winning the longest swim yet this season by 20 seconds from Luke Kelly.
After two lost weeks because of bad weather and harbour pollution, 158 swimmers were eager to tackle near perfect conditions in a 1400m race that took competitors south from the yacht club ramp before turning across to the Haulashore Island jetty, then back to the start point.
Despite the winds elsewhere in town, swimmers only had to fight a slight tidal current in the first leg south, then had a smooth passage across to the island. The southerly made it more of a challenge on the return journey, but that eased towards the end, replaced by a light drizzle.
Matthew Hansen and Simon Kneebone, two of the best adult swimmers in the country, followed the teenagers home, but then it was the turn of the women.
Lisa Birkett and Amy Coulton have been dominant in the female points table this year. After eight swims, each have seven results. Last night it was the turn of the 41-year-old Birkett, in fifth place overall.
Coulton was six seconds behind, the 15-year-old taking seventh spot behind Jody Keefe-Laing, the leader in the men's 20-29 section.
That result puts Birkett on top of the points table by one point from Coulton at the halfway point in the season, leaving the competition wide open when the best of 12 swims is determined out of a possible 16 (swimmers drop their worst performances and no-shows at the end of the season).
Grace Woodall also finished in the top 10, firmly cementing her third spot in the women's table and leaving her with a clear lead in 16-19.
The return of Ironman star Britta Martin cost Wendy Healey a win in the women's 30-39 league, but Healey's lead at this point of the competition seems insurmountable.
Other female swimmers with clear leads are Philippa Kennard in 20-29 and Jude Vincent in 50-59.
Male swimmers who now appear unbeatable over the season are Kneebone in 40-49, Denis Cooper in 50-59, Ben Van Dyke in 60-69 and Derek Eaton in 70+. All have perfect records in their age groups.
Although the script often seems to be written in advance in the long swims, with most of the leaders appearing on a regular basis, the short swim series is much more volatile, with attendance of some of the faster swimmers often irregular.
Paige Woodall has only swum once before this season and that was in the long course. Last night she took on the short race, swimming without a wetsuit and winning with ease over a 500m course ahead of Brooke Matheson, then a minute back to Julia Garde, the first swimmer on the adult table. Garde is closing in on series leader Joanne Rawson, who finished in ninth place
Teenager Zoe Hunt took fourth spot, ahead of the first males, Sakkie Meyer and Wesley Harris.
Swimming continues next week.
The Nelson Mail