Hayden Squance evades stingrays en route to record
Despite the efforts of a couple of stingrays, the sea swimming season in Nelson ended on a high note on Sunday with a new record for the 2.8km Haulashore Circuit, the fourth race in the Clements Endurance Series.
Sombre skies and a light drizzle greeted the field of 80, but the surface was glassy, making it perfect for the swimmers - not so good for the officials and spectators.
Luke Kelly and Hayden Squance struck out for the 'dolphin' navigation marker, establishing an early lead, with Terry Bone tucked in a handy position off their toes.
Bone stuck with the two 19-year-olds as they passed through The Cut, attracting little attention from the basking seal that watched the entire field pass with just an occasional wave from its flipper.
Heading down the back of the island, the teenagers stepped up the pace, with Bone dropping back, but help was on his way as they rounded the southern navigation marker and negotiated the shallows to the south of the island.
In less than one metre waters, a lazy stingray stopped the two leaders in their tracks. Oblivious to the marine life, Bone powered by to take a short-lived lead.
A second stingray caused another break in proceedings, but the younger swimmers re-established their dominance as they headed north, back to the dolphin marker.
At the final turn there was nothing separating the pair, but Squance launched a determined sprint to reach the finish in 35 minutes 33 seconds, 12 seconds inside Kelly's 2015 record.
Kelly also went under the old record in 35min 36sec, with 45-year-old Bone claiming third place in 36min 15sec.
Next to finish were Hamish Neill (37.50), Simon Kneebone (39.14), Andrew Martin (39.15) and women's winner, 38-year-old Blenheim swimmer Jodie Lovell (39.25).
Christina Harris (40.41), Wendy Healey (43.48), Janis Crampton (44.05) and Renee Hunt (45.00) made up the first five in the women's field.
A shorter swim of about 900m to the dolphin and return was also on offer and Glenn Bathgate was a convincing winner in 14min 51sec. He was followed by Jacqui Maitland (17.05), Mandy Medcalf-Stephens (17.21), Nicole Thurlow (18.47) and Rob Boomer (19.30) and Cheryl De Lange (19.37).
Competition swimming in the sea has now ended for the summer, although several Nelson competitors will head north for the King of the Bays swim in Auckland in April. Swimming in Nelson resumes in November.