Competition fierce in Nelson swims


By Peter Gibbs
With many of Nelson's top swimmers off to Taupo for Swimming NZ's open water championships and the Epic swims, some of the older competitors must have thought they were in with a chance at Thursday's weekly Port Nelson Swim Series event.

Alec Swan came from behind to win Thursdays Port Nelson swim over 1200m.
Photos: Pete Marshall

Isabella Thurlow was the first woman to finish.
Terry Bone (48), Ben Marshall (35) and Hamish Neill (57) had the lead in the 1200m race, when a non-wetsuited figure shot past and took the win by 14 seconds.
Alec Swan had kept a low profile at the start, possibly saving himself for Taupo, but he was impressive in the sprint to the finish line.
Keeping it in the family, 14-year-old Brooke Swan was up near the front, taking the second women's spot behind Isabella Thurlow. Flossie Van Dyke was close behind to place third in the women's field.
At the halfway point in the season, the points table is starting to take shape with many swimmers using the tough local competition to prepare themselves for national swims.
Christina Harris hasn't missed a Nelson swim all season and is leading the overall series here. She also leads the national ocean swim series in the F55-59 age group after her win in Takapuna late last year. With the 3.3km Capital Classic coming up in Wellington on January 31 and the 5km Akaroa swim in February, she's in a good position to consolidate that lead.
Oxford Bayley and Terry Bone are in a tie for second overall in the Nelson series, both having missed a swim or two. However, both will be chasing gold in Wellington, with Bayley seeking to avenge his Takapuna loss to the ageless Auckland swimmer Brent Foster (now in his fifties) with an overall win, while Bone will be aiming for a top ten finish along with top honours in M45-49. It's worth noting that Nelson has a good history in the Wellington swim, with Luke Kelly having won it twice in the last three years, only bowing to Foster two years ago.
Abbey Smale is having an unbelievable run of good results. Unbeaten nationally all last season in open water swims, she won the women's section of the Takapuna race and will be chasing her second consecutive win in Wellington on January 31.
Other age groupers with high hopes of success in Wellington include Ben Marshal (M35-39), Ruth Thomas (F40-44), Hamish Neil (M55-59), Denis Cooper (M60-64), Maggy Johnston (F65-69), Ben Van Dyke and Stuart Hebberd (M70-74) and Derek Eaton (M75-79).
In the 600m event in Thursday's Port Nelson series, Noah Brehaut won in a sprint from Emily Chadderton. The pair were followed closely by a tangle of arms and legs from which emerged Lilly Claridge, Marcell Kepess, Lono Kalani and Lucas Bell.