Another Port Nelson Sea Swim Series win for Fraser Neill
With a season extending over 18 weeks, the Port Nelson Sea Swim Series is a story told over many chapters.Fraser Neill clocked his fourth win of the season in Thursday night's 1500m swim, but he still sits in fifth place on the series table and with his return to university studies imminent he won't progress further on the table.
In the early part of the season, it was the teen swimmers from the ASB Aquatic Centre making all the running as they prepared for the Taupo Open Water Swim in January.
Since then, they've focussed on the pool and tertiary students home for the holidays have been making much of the running. Underlying these surges, the middle aged swimmers have been quietly accumulating points, with their best 12 counting for season honours.
This week's swim was the 13th of the summer and conditions were near perfect - a marked change from the cold, wild nights that have been a feature of the season so far.
The main challenge was the powerful incoming tide, which made the opening leg of 600m from the Nelson Yacht Club ramp to the Richardson St steps a marathon effort.
Neill, Harrison Dean, Matai McGuinniety, Caleb Johnston and Luke Kelly made the early break as they battled south to the first turn. As they shifted to the tide-assisted leg north to the 'dolphin' navigation marker, Neill broke away, opening a narrow lead.
Dean had it covered, surging after they rounded the dolphin to set the pace on the final 400m to shore. His effort was short lived, as Neill increased his effort to record a narrow win, touching the ramp in 17 minutes 12 seconds, ahead of Dean (17.17), McGuinniety (17.19), Johnston (17.44) and Kelly (18.04).
In a very competitive race, former series winner Matthew Hansen was sixth in 18min 30sec, followed by Jacob Northage (18.48), Josh Sheridan (18.59), Hamish Neill (19.04) and Ben Ryan (19.07) bringing up the top ten.
The women's placings have been dominated by teenagers this season, but top F40-49 swimmer Kerry Mathieson led the women home for the second time this season, stopping the clock at 19min 18sec to now lead the season points standings. She was followed by Ruby-Lou Stuart (19.35), Georgie Trengrove (19.55) and last week's winner Piper Riley (20.53).
One of the most intriguing battles this season has been in the F50-59 category, where after 13 swims, Jude Vincent has recorded eight victories to the five wins by Christina Harris.
On Thursday night it was Harris's turn, as she finished fifth in the women's standings in 20min 54sec, followed by Zara Aydon (21.33), then Vincent (21.47).
With four swims to go, it's up to Harris to continue with her winning ways, with the added complication that Vincent may be travelling away to other events over the next month.
Overall, the women's tables are dominated by the consistent swimmers, with Mathieson, Vincent and Harris on top of the table. However, there's still time for some of the younger swimmers, particularly Piper Riley, to pile on last-minute points and win the Port Nelson trophy.
In the men's overall table, Hayden Squance still has a clear lead. Although he's missed the last three swims as he chases triathlon honours around the country, he'll be back next week with time to rack up points from the maximum 12 swims needed.
In last Thursday night's short swim over about 500m, Emily Bryant recorded her second win in her only two appearances this season, stopping the clock in 8min 4sec, ahead of Skye Humphries (8.09), Nicholas Paulin (8.10), Gemma Langley (8.57), Mia Langley (9.37), Emma Lynch (9.50) and Connor Eden (9.52).
Swimmers front up for the third race in the Clements Windows and Doors Endurance Series on Sunday with the 3.8km Ironman Challenge. Starting at Tahunanui Beach at 11.15am, the event shadows Rocks Rd to the Boat Shed, before turning south around the toe of Haulashore Island then back to the beach.
A short event travels from the Richardson St Steps to the beach for a swim of 1300m.Information and results at nelsonseaswims.co.nz.