Port Nelson Sea Swims
By Peter Gibbs
The first wave of swimmers starts the race at Thursday's Port Nelson Sea Swim. Photo: Ruth Leckey
After four races in the Port Nelson Sea Swim Series, Luke Kelly and Alec Swan are locked together at the top of the men's points table, with two wins each.
Kelly, 20, is last season's series winner, while Swan is the 15-year-old challenger proving more than a handful to contain.
Winner Luke Kelly was chased to the finish by a large group of swimmers. Photo: Ruth Leckey.
Thursday's 1100m swim was over a long triangle from the Nelson Yacht Club ramp, heading south against the tide for 500m, before a short leg across to the 'dolphin' navigation marker and a return to the final offshore mark, a small boat moored 40m from shore.
As usual at the start, everyone was seeking to get behind a fast pair of feet to benefit from the drafting effect. Kelly, Hayden Squance and Terry Bone took on the lead role, with a large group tucked in behind.
At the first mark, Swan drew alongside, swimming with Kelly to the dolphin, while the bunch stayed largely intact behind.
Kelly made his move on the final leg of 400m, but had Swan and Bendi Kepess right on his toes as they rounded the offshore mark for the sprint to the finish.
Slightly confusing at the end was the mooring of a second small boat near the finish during the race, causing a couple of swimmers to go astray in their navigation.
Kelly held on for the win in 13 minutes 28 seconds from Swan (13.32), Kepess (13.34) and Fergus Drummond (13.44)
Abbey Smale (13.51) caused an upset in the women's field, coming in fifth ahead of Squance (13.57), Bone (14.10), women's series leader Sierra Thomas (14.23), Oxford Bayley (14.30) and tenth placed Matthew Hansen (14.34).
After winning gold in the national series race in Bay of Islands the previous weekend, M50-59 swimmer Hamish Neill continued his good form in 14min 38sec.
Sophie Alexander (14.44), Ruby-Lou Stuart (15.23), Flossie Van Dyke (15.49) and Christina Harris (15.50) were the next women to finish.
A total of 115 swimmers finished the event, while another 30 took on the shorter 500m race.
Alexandra Grenfell made her second appearance of the season, taking her first win ahead of Brooke Swan, Hannah Hobbs, Mia Langley, Caitlin Alexander and Edward Swain.
Swimming continues every Thursday evening in Nelson until March, with many swimmers making frequent trips around the country for Banana Boat Ocean Swim events, the next being at Omaha Beach, north of Auckland, on Saturday December 15.
Information and full results at nelsonseaswims.co.nz.