Hayden Squance holds off Olympian Tony Dodds in Port Nelson Sea Swim Series
Series leader Hayden Squance faced a new challenge in race four of the Port Nelson Sea Swim Series on Thursday night.
Olympic triathlete Tony Dodds, in Nelson for swim training, threatened to upset Squance's unbeaten record over a 900m course from the Nelson Yacht Club ramp.
Heading south into the tidal flow, the pair swam stroke for stroke, around the first marker, then out to the dolphin navigation marker towards Haulashore Island.
The still night made for precise racing as, with neither yielding, both threw in surges as they headed for the finish, Squance using local knowledge over the final sprint to aim himself precisely at the finish and win by a whisker in a time of 10 minutes 30 seconds.
Former series winner Luke Kelly returned from university for his first swim this season, taking the third spot in 11min 1sec, a second ahead of the leading woman, Talya Harwood.
Matai McGuinniety (11.05), Terry Bone (11.12) and Fraser Neill (11.33) were next to finish, Neill another former series winner making a return after more than a season off.
This season's new face, Piper Riley, was the second woman to hit the shore in a time of 11min 54sec, ahead of Simon Kneebone (11.59) and Hamish Neill (12.09).
In the micro-battle between the top three older women, Christina Harris triumphed for the first time this season, recording 12min 43sec to lead in Kerry Mathieson by two seconds with Jude Vincent six seconds further back.
However, despite having missed a swim, Harwood still leads the series from Mathieson and Riley, with Harris and Vincent tied for the next spot.
The men's series is more wide open, with Squance clearly ahead of Bone, from Sam McKenzie, McGuinniety and Kneebone.
Zara Aydon was a clear winner in the short race over 420m in 6mn 34sec, from Hannah Martin (7.16), Skye Humphries (7.35) showing big improvements in her first season, and Gemma Langley (7.44).
Full results, nelsonseaswims.co.nz.