The fastest, tensest, closest and most thrilling finish in the history of the Sri Chinmoy National Capital Swim saw a sensational race â stroke for stroke â from start to finish, with course records shattered along the way.
In the end, standing first and showing a better sprint to the line, 17-year-old Oliver Bourne (1:57:27) just shaded 20-year-old Jessica Traficante (1:57:36), to be the first male and female respectively to swim the 9-km length of Lake Burley Griffin under 2 hours, without the aid of wetsuits.
En route and not surprisingly, Oliver broke the Solo Swimmer course record for each of the relay legs, while Jessica also set new best times for 3 of the 4 legs. Astonishingly, both swimmers swam faster times than any relay team has ever managed over the full distance.
The next 4 swimmers to finish were all Solo Females without wetsuits, showing an unprecedented depth of competition among the girls this year. Oliver's 15-year-old sister, Megan Bourne was next in 2:12:49 in her first attempt at this course, powering away from super-swimmer Morgan Skillman (2:13:10) over the final kilometre. Hayley Gosman and Barbora Markincova both recorded their fastest times for the course in a great day for the girls.
Admittedly, conditions on the lake were the best we have ever seen, with nary a whiff of breeze to disturb the mirror-like surface and a delectable 20 degrees in the water making swimming without a wetsuit the preferred option for most of the field.
Steve Meredith and Geoff Llewellyn have made this swim their own. With his win today, Steve now holds 3 overall course records â for the category Male 50-59 without a wetsuit (2:34:40 from 2005); Male 50-59 with a wetsuit (2:28:08 from 2004); and now Male 60-69 with a wetsuit (2:43:27 today). Geoff has swim all but one of these swims since they began, adding yet another trophy to his collection with a fine 3:00:08, certainly the fastest time ever for a 77-year-old.
Craig Kentwell is another who continues to shine each year, winning the Solo Male 50-59s without a wetsuit in 2:56:17.
Among the wetsuit wearers, Dave Hayes was fastest overall and first Male Under 50 in 2:26:11; Cheryl Hutchins came in first among the Female Under 50s in 2:42:44; Greg Gourley was first Male 50-59 in 2:34:06; while Janet Gorst came first in the Female 50-59 with a wonderful swim of 3:07:36.
Right before the start of the race, 2 swimmers with kayaks were seen approaching from the far end of the lake. Wayne Arthur and Alistair Newmarch decided to "warm up" for the event by swimming the entire 9 km course in reverse. Jumping out of the water briefly to officially register for the race, they then immediately joined the remainder of the field and swam back to the finish â just part of their training for The English Chanel next August!
This year's top teams were "The Brit Sisters" (Caroline Makin and Phillippa Rickard â 1st All-Female Team in 2:29:31); "bilgy floaters" (Alex Gosman and Christina Thorne â 1st Mixed Team in 2:33:04); and "Miraje" (Martin McGready, Iain Addinell, Rob Marshall and Jeff Howard â 1st All-Male Team in 2:26:33).
Full results overall and by category are published, as well as some photos from the day. The Sri Chinmoy National Capital Swim will return in November 2012.