Clements Windows and Doors Endurance Series
Story by: Peter Gibbs - Nelson Mail - Photo by: Tony Bennett
Jack Thornton Photo: Evan Barnes/SHUTTERSPORT
Jack Thornton has been knocking on the door all summer and yesterday it opened as the 16-year-old won his first major sea swim of the year.
He couldn’t have chosen a tougher race to make his debut. The fourth race in the Clements Windows and Doors Endurance Series was an arm-sapping 3.8km slog from Tahunanui Beach up to the Boat Shed, then across to the dolphin before the return to the beach via the navigation marker on the south-west corner of Haulashore Island.
Age seems to confer a certain advantage in the longer events. Just over 20 seconds behind Thornton, in a time of 50 minutes and 32 seconds, a man four times his age, 60-year-old Ben Van Dyke splashed ashore, followed 11 seconds later by 50-year-old Christchurch swimmer Peter Johnson.
Denis Cooper, 51, was fourth in 51min 18sec.
It was the same story for the women, with 43-year-old Kerry Mathieson finishing in fifth place, one spot ahead of Kirstin Ramsay, 31. A minute later, Caitlin Abbott, 15, was the third woman to finish.
Sea swimming is one of the most pleasant summer sports and it was no accident to hear the adjective ‘beautiful’ to describe the swim.
On the first beat north, the 56 swimmers in the 3.8km race had a good view of historic Rocks Rd, followed by some close up views of the island as they turned south. Around the toe of the island they encountered the unexpected hazard of driftwood and other flotsam lifted off the island shore by the mammoth spring tide.
Rounding the second navigation marker at the south-west tip of the island, conditions became more like the open sea, with a bigger swell and an increased chop before the long haul back to the beach – a chance to get into an even stroking routine, disturbed only by the choppy conditions.
Thirty minutes after the start of the long race, 29 swimmers set off from the Richardson St steps for a 1.3km short version.
Obviously relishing his first foray into sea swimming after time in the pool, 16-year-old Kaiori McGuinetty dashed to victory in 20min 02sec, 40 seconds clear of Louis Olsen, with Nigel Muir 30 seconds behind in third.
Jude Vincent was the leading woman just a second behind in 24min 22sec, ahead of Murray Tewnion and the second woman Dana Slierendrecht.
With just one endurance swim and four regular Thursday swims in the Port Nelson series, the season is drawing to a close, but there’s no wavering in the enthusiasm of the growing community of sea swimmers.
Results and more information at nelsonseaswims.co.nz.