Glancing at the first few images form the event photo album, you’d be lulled into imagining today’s swim a serene sojourn, gliding across a glistening mirror-like lake … though by the closing stages, you’ll notice even the seagulls are seeking shelter from the blustering gale…
54 solo swimmers – a record field for the Sri Chinmoy National Capital Swim – was boosted by the presence of 7 members of the Australian Open Water Swimming squad, fortuitously in Canberra for a training weekend, and joined by AIS champion Para-Swimmer, Monique Murphy. Although the overall course records (for both wetsuit and non-wetsuit categories) did not fall – and could not have been recognised even if they had fallen, due to a late change to the course necessitated by the closure of the customary location for the 2nd relay transition at Yarralumla Swimming Beach – the average pace at the front of the field was the fastest ever seen.
Only 3 seconds separated the fastest wetsuited males – Nicholas Sloman edging ahead in 1:55:56 from Bailey Armstrong’s 1:55:59 – while Australian Olympic 10km representative Kareena Lee emerged just in their slipstream to take out the women’s wetsuited crown with an outstanding 1:56:34.
Next home was the champion wetsuitless swimmer offering the standout swim of the day – Nicholas Rollo with a superb solo swim over 9km of 1:56:48. Following Nicholas came the 2nd and 3rd podium placings in the female wetsuit-wearers; Madisyn Armstrong with 1:57:19 and Mackenzie Brazier in 1:59:03. Never before has this event seen 6 swimmers crossing the line in under 2 hours! (3rd placed wetsuited male, Michael Harding came just 35 seconds after the 2 hour mark).
David Allen and Nicholas Allnutt were exceptional 2nd and 3rd placegetters of the Solo Male (no wetsuit) category with 2:03:00 and 2:05:47 respectively. Our ever-cheerful AIS Para-Swimmer, Monique Murphy swam an extraordinary 2:19:51 to take out the premier prize in the wetsuitless women’s race; from Ashleigh Webb (2:36:28) and Courtney Bicknell (2:47:44). In other wetsuitless category results, Lesa Hansen was fastest amongst Women 50-59 with 3:20:31; and the youthful Pauline English winner of the Female 60-69 in 3:54:19. Consistent campaigner Alan Vogt was sharp as ever to take out the Male 50-59 in 2:30:04, from Mark Knackstedt’s 2:39:45; while ever-green Graeme Wolfenden yet again drove home with the Male 60-69 champion’s trophy after 3:03:29 in the water.
The other pre-eminent placings among the wetsuit-clad swimmers went to Nicolee Martin (1st place Female 50-59) with 2:34:04, from Suzie Gunning in 2:50:39; Inge Close (1st place Female 60-69) with an exceptional 2:51:47; Stuart Ludington with 2:45:17 to take out the main prize in the Male 50-59, from Jon Schol’s 2:55:03; and Greg Gourley – a late switch from non-wet to wetsuit wearing to the dismay of his fellow categorians – taking the Male 60-69 in another fine swim – his 10th consecutive annual conquest of the lake’s length – of 2:41:59, from Grant Lepp’s 3:00:09.
While the 2nd and 3rd legs of today’s swim were altered by the late change of the Yarralumla transition, nevertheless legs 1 and 4 remained unchanged, hence new best times set for these legs go straight into the record books. Congratulations to our Olympian, Kareena Lee, who established new best times for a female solo swimmer in a wetsuit, for leg 1 of 20:23 and for leg 4 of 20:49; and to Chloe Bateup for the new fastest time for a female relay swimmer for leg 1 of 23:01.
Fastest All-Female Relay team this morning was the elite “PTC Girls” pairing of Chloe Bateup and Monique De Abreu, with 2:28:28. Best Mixed Team was the “JT Multisport – National Capital Swim Team” combination of Chris Mutton, Joseph Pascall and Josie Pepper with 2:20:17; the winning All-Male Team was “Just Keep Swimming”, comprising Shaun Harris and Corey Bacon in 2:21:31; while the tried and true “Rod and Reel” (Andrew Dawes and Rod Smith), proved their previous wins in the All-Male All Over 50 teams category were no fluke, with 2:32:23 pirating yet more silverwear back up the Hume to Goulburn!
Gratitude to all who make this landmark event possible, including members of the Canberra Canoe Club and YMCA Sailing Club, Sports Trainers from Sports Medicine Australia (ACT) and volunteers from the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team from Canberra, Mongolia, Latvia, England, New Zealand, Czech Republic and the USA.
2020 will see a few innovations at the Sri Chinmoy National Capital Swim: a modified course, new distance and changed start time. Stay tuned for details to be announced early in the New Year.