Port Nelson swim series
The reduced size of the field on Thursday didn't make things any easier for Luke Kelly to maintain his string of wins in the Port Nelson swim series.
The country's top 45-50 swimmer, 46-year-old Terry Bone stuck right on 20-year-old Kelly's heels through the 1500m swim - a gap of 10 seconds separating the pair at the finish.
It's been a rough few weeks in the Nelson harbour, with storms and heavy rain pushing pollution levels constantly above the safe swimming level.
It wasn't until Thursday afternoon that swimmers got the green light for their regular race, after it had cancelled two weeks ago and moved to Tahunanui Beach last week.
Even so, levels were slightly elevated and many swimmers chose to give the swim a miss, with the final field of 79 the smallest in several seasons.
Conditions couldn't have been better, with calm seas and negligible current. The long triangular course took swimmers from the Nelson Yacht Club 700m south to the Richardson St steps before a sharp turn and a second leg north to the dolphin navigation marker.
The final 400 slog across the current returned the field to the yacht club and it was only on that leg that Kelly managed a slight break from Bone and Austen Dean, who had formed a tight group with Kelly until then.
At the line it was Kelly in 17min 43sec from Bone (17.53) and Dean (17.57) with a gap back to Matai McGuinniety (19.11), Hamish Neill (19.18), Andrew Martin (19.41), Ben Van Dyke (19.42), Jon Linyard (19.45) and Denis Cooper (20.10).
Christina Harris (20.26) rounded out the top ten, the 54-year-old topping the women's standings for the first time this season, as she also clinched season victory in F50-59.
Zara Aydon (21.02) and Hannah Martin (21.57) grabbed their chances to take top three women's finishes for the first time.
In the short swim over 500m, Yegor Jones (8.59) took first ahead of Mia Langley (10.29), Clark Ambrose (10.26) and Hannah Price (11.26), having her best swim of the year as she builds for the Port Nelson Schools Triathlon on March 6.
With settled conditions over the past few days, the harbour is clearing and there are high hopes the threatening cyclone will take its business elsewhere, leaving swimmers to conclude the last three races of the series without further disturbances.
Information and results at nelsonseaswims.co.nz.