Port Nelson sea swim
By Peter Gibbs
After six weeks of swimming, the position at the top of both men's and women's leaderboard is poised on a knife edge,
With a Christmas barbecue to follow, last week's long swim was cut almost in half - to 650m - completely changing the race from a consistent slog to an out and back all-out sprint.
As has so often happened this season, the pack was happy to follow on the heels of Luke Kelly as they stroked against the incoming tide to the first mark.
It was on the return leg that Kelly turned on the power. He still couldn't escape, but managed to hold form to the finish in 7 minutes 34 seconds, two seconds ahead of Bendi Kepess, with Alec Swan (7.41) coming in third, ahead of Fergus Drummond (7.44) and Hayden Squance (7.48).
So far for the season, both Kelly and Swan have three wins and two second places, but Swan's third this week is better than Kelly's fourth a few weeks ago, so the 15-year-old leads the series by one point.
Sierra Thomas and Abbey Smale were both credited with 7min 54sec, with the judge giving Thomas the win.
Photo: Ben Marshall won the M30-39 section as he finished 12th overall in last week's Port Nelson sea swim. Photo: Fiona Lulham
Smale has had two victories in recent weeks, but started the season slowly while Thomas notched up early wins. The leaderboard shows Thomas with a one-point advantage so far, but the final tally will allow swimmers to just take their best 12 results and drop the others, so the outcome is far too close to call.
Things are just as unpredictable in a couple of the age group competitions.
In M30-39, Rob Boomer has a clear lead, but he's yet to win a race, while Tim Saunders has two wins and a second place in three starts and last week's winner Ben Marshall has won all three of the races he's competed in. Either could take that age group title if they complete at least another nine swims in the remaining 11 weeks of competition.
Simon Bloomberg has challenged Ben Van Dyke with two wins in M60-69, but has a difficult task ahead after missing the last two swims.
Last week's short swim over 500m resulted in a second win for Alexandra Grenfell (7.12) ahead of Brooke Swan (7.18).
Hannah Hobbs(7.21), Lilly Hall (7.25), Mia Langley (7.35) and Olivia Huata-Findlay (7.51) took out the minor places.
Swan and Langley lead the points table, but Grenfell is coming into form after missing two races early on and could easily challenge for the top spot by season end.
Swimming continues without pause on Thursday nights through the summer, with the annual Eyebright Mile coming up on Sunday January 6.
Results and information, nelsonseaswims.co.nz.