By Peter Gibbs
The normal holiday exodus of local swimmers caused a drop in attendance at the post-Christmas edition of the Port Nelson Sea Swims.
From 170 swimmers the previous week, just over 120 faced the starter for either a 1250m or a 500m swim, with a few top swimmers from the past making a holiday appearance.
Abbey Smale sits on top of the leader board after her third win in the Port Nelson Sea Swims. Photo: Ruth Leckey
Harrison Dean started out as he left off several years ago, leading the field on the first leg from the yacht club ramp to the 'dolphin' navigation marker.
Luke Kelly and Hayden Squance tucked in behind on either side, with a large number of swimmers slotting in to benefit from the draft.
From the dolphin, the field headed back toward Rocks Rd, rounding a buoy about 400m south of the finish.
Kelly made his move on this leg, but was unable to shake the pack, which stretched out in his wake.
Rounding the finish buoy, Kelly managed to maintain a body length, finishing in 14min 10sec from Bendi Kepess (14.13), Alex Swan (14.16), Squance (14.18), Fergus Drummond (14.21) and the first woman, Abbey Smale (14.51).
The win inches Kelly to the top of the men's leader board by one point from Swan.
Sophie Alexander (15.21) was the second woman to finish, ahead of Madeline Shallcrass (15.41), Sierra Thomas (15.42) and Christina Harris (17.57).
Smale's win gives her a two-point lead on the women's table from Thomas.
Chris Vincent (17.27) took his first age group win in M50-59, while Malcolm Anderson (19.32) did the same in M60-69.
In the short swim, Brooke Swan (7.03), Lilly Hall (7.14) and Olivia Huata-Findlay (7.21) took the top three places, ahead of Tom Perkins (7.25), Edward Swain (7.38) and Caitlin Alexander (7.39).
Swimming continues on Thursday, with the annual Eyebright Mile from the yacht club to the beach starting at 11am on Sunday January 6.
Full information and results at nelsonseaswims.co.nz.