New Plymouth's Keith Allum has the jump on most in the Flannagan Cup open water swim.
And rightly so. As the oldest competitor in the 3.6km swim, the 73-year-old will start near the front of the 67-strong field at New Plymouth's Ngamotu Beach this morning.
"I just plod along near the front. My standard 2.5km per hour ... totally predictable," Allum said yesterday.
"I swim four or five times a week. When it warms up, I'm at Ngamotu Beach, otherwise I'm at the pool. Ngamotu Beach is a great asset. It's the only safe beach for miles around."
Allum said his swim sessions were usually an hour - that's how he knows his time.
"Fifty lengths is 2.5km, 60 lengths is 3km. An hour's swim is 2.5km."
Allum has competed in the Flannagan Cup for at least 10 years.
"I used to do marathons - I did 34 of them - but basically gave that up.
"Swimming is great for all ages, it's easier on the body. The young ones have an advantage with muscle to weight ratio. As you get older, it gets harder, no doubt about that."
Allum also competes in the national open water swim series.
"I did the Auckland Harbour crossing before Christmas and two weeks ago I did the Wellington open swim. I really enjoy the ocean swim series, they're excellent."
This year's Flannagan Cup field includes long distance swimmer Charlotte Webby, who won the open women's title at Wellington, and triathlete Clark Ellice.
The pair start from the back of the field, Ellice off 46 minutes 30 seconds and Webby a minute later.
The backmarker, off 48min is Jay Cadman-Kennedy.
The youngest competitors are 14-year-old twins Bridie and Charlie North. Bridie starts off 26min, with Charlie off 39min.
Trevor Corkin has nearly 15 minutes start on his son Hayden, off 44min 30sec, while Paula Robinson and her son Scott Hugo both start off the 15min mark.
Cadman-Kennedy and Ryan Tooley are lining up in two events.
Cadman-Kennedy, 17, will warm up for the Flannagan Cup in the open 1.2km swim for 15 to 19- year-olds, while Tooley will swim in the masters 1.2km event before tackling the cup race.
Cadman-Kennedy is on the back mark for the 1.2km swim.
There are a number of husband-wife combinations competing in the masters swim.
Fiona Parkinson is off go, with husband Neale starting off 7min 15sec. John Doucette starts off 3min, 5min 30sec ahead of his wife Emma, while Warren Smart and Virginia Winder will hit the water at the same time, both on 8min 45sec.
Kevin Hann also has a handy start on Lauren. Kevin starts on 7min 15sec, with Lauren off 8min 45sec.
Twins Ben and Max McCallum are in the Duncan Laing swim over 1.2km. Ben gets a 15sec start on his brother, hitting the water at 3min 15sec.
- Taranaki Daily News
What name would you like to see the Taranaki rugby team known as next year?Related story: Change on cards for our team - no bull