Records shattered in Nelson classic
By Peter Gibbs
Swimmers took advantage of perfect conditions to rewrite the record book in the 34th Eyebright Mile in Nelson on Sunday.
Alec Swan, left, was a narrow winner over Hayden Squance in the 34th annual Eyebright Mile in Nelson.
Photos: Pete Marshall
Alec Swan pipped Hayden Squance in a sprint up the beach, recording 22min 37sec for the 2km course.
Oxford Bayley was in third place in 22.43, joining the others in breaking Cadman Irvine's 1993 record of 23.21.
Previous three-time winner of the event Luke Kelly (24.01) finished just ahead of Abbey Smale (24.17), who shattered Sam Winward's 2015 record by 84 seconds.
In a female procession, next to finish were Isabella Thurlow (26.23) and Brooke Swan (26.43).
The annual race starts at the Nelson Yacht Club ramp and finishes on the sands of Tahunanui Beach. Race Founder Peter Owen was on the start line for the first time in many years and finished the event comfortably.
As usual, the race started right on high tide, giving slack water from the gun and with a slight tidal push as swimmers passed Haulashore Island and Fifeshire Rock.
Squance took his customary line close to the wall, while Swan and Bayley swam wider out, with Kelly heading up the middle ahead of Smale.
As they converged at the finish, the leaders were neck and neck, but a slight stumble by Squance as they ran through the shallows gave Swan the edge he needed.
Some fine age group performances were recorded, including 44-year-old Christchurch triathlete John Newsom's 8th place, the consistent result from Christina Harris, the 57-year-old finishing in 11th and 42-year-old Marlborough swimmer Jodie Lovell's 12th place finish.
Denis Cooper, 61, was 14th, just ahead of 56-year-old Chris Vincent.
Nelson swimmers are accustomed to frequent racing in the weekly Port Nelson series, with short and long options available each week.
It was noticeable that several of the younger competitors, who usually choose the short option, were able to finish well up the field in this longer race.
Corey Tremblay, 13, Noah Brehaut, 12, Ariah Bayley, 13, and Victoria Charles, 13, all finished well up in the field and will be strong talents in the very near future.
As usual, 79-year-old Derek Eaton distinguished himself placing 40th overall, with 65 swimmers following in his wake..
In the short option of 1300m, Joshua Barry and Thomas Newsom led the field of seven swimmers.
Nelson swimmers now turn their attention to the national Banana Boat Ocean Swim Series, with the next outing in Wellington on January 31. Luke Kelly has won two of the last three Wellington races, but Oxford Bayley has his sights set on that title for this year after his second-place finish in race one of the series on Auckland's North Shore late last year.
Details of all Nelson swims, nelsonseaswims.co.nz.