Aussies Win, But Kiwis Keep Olympic Dreams Alive

Aussies Win, But Kiwis Keep Olympic Dreams Alive

The State New Zealand 10km Open Water Swim in Lake Taupo served as a qualification race for the host swimmers from New Zealand.

Faced with some of the fastest professional marathon swimmers on the planet, Cara Baker and Kane Radford maintained a sufficient pace in order to keep Olympic dreams alive.

5K world champion Melissa Gorman and fellow Queenslander Trent Grimsey won the race and the $5,000 top prize money in the cool and choppy Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake.

Cara and Taranaki’s Charlotte Webby were second and third respectively in the women’s race while Kane and Auckland’s Jonathan Pullon took similar places on the podium in the men’s race. The quartet thus qualified to represent New Zealand at the final Olympic 10K Marathon Swim qualification race in June in Portugal.

Kane who has been training with Swimming New Zealand’s high performance centre, took a sizeable early lead that was eventually whittled away by Trent who finished in 1:59:50. Kane finished 3 minutes back.

Trent will be attempting the English Channel this year and relished collecting the prize money. “I came here to win. The $5,000 prize money was a big lure for sure and I targeted this result. I didn’t realize Kane had got so far ahead on the first lap until I got to the feed point, and I thought that I may not catch him but I managed to bridge up to Kane and went for it on the last lap.”

Kane said he had decided to push hard on the first lap, tactics he would not normally use, but overall was pleased with the outcome. “I came here to progress my Olympic campaign. I would have liked to have won but I got the job done. That’s what I came here to do. I have four months until Portugal and I am looking forward to getting back into training. I think I am on track for London and I am now one step closer to that dream.”

Auckland’s Jonathan Pullon swam a strong final lap to overtake Wellington’s Casey Glover and secure the second qualifying spot for Portugal. Defending champion Phillip Ryan withdrew on the second lap after a recurrence of his shoulder injury.

In the women’s race, Cara set the early pace as she and Melissa powered through the slower end of the men’s field that had started three minutes ahead. Melissa, the savvy five-time Australian open water champion, waited and then charged through the final lap to win 2:08:13 with Cara two minutes back and Webby in third seven minutes behind the winner. “It is conditions we could expect in London so that was good,” said Melissa. “I only have one more 10K swim before the Olympics, so this was good racing practice and shows that my training is on track. I am still in big training load right now so the result was pleasing.”

Cara said her swim was encouraging. “I felt really good. The conditions were really tough. It got colder and colder and so I struggled a little on the last lap with the temperature. The key was to qualify for Portugal and I did that. I achieved my goal while still in big training so it gives me confidence that I am on track for Portugal and hopefully London.”

The championship was part of the State Epic Swim, a range of championship and recreational swims that attracted approximately 500 competitors. The event finishes tomorrow with the national 5K championship and the New Zealand Masters Championship.

Results, State New Zealand 10km Open Water Championships:

1. Trent Grimsey (Australia) 1:59:50
2. Kane Radford (Rotorua, HPC) 2:02:52
3. Jonathan Pullon (Waterhole, Auckland) 2:08:07
4. Casey Glover (Capital, Wellington) 2:08:25
5. Troy Balvert (Waves, Otago) 2:09:05
1. Melissa Gorman (AUS) 2:08:13
2. Cara Baker (Howick Pakuranga) 2:10:40
3. Charlotte Webby (Aquabladz, Taranaki) 2:15:42
4. Emily Seymour (AUS) 2:19:59
5. Grace Sommerville (Ashburton) 2:20:29

Photos by Photosport show Cara Baker in action and Kane Radford finishing.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones