Epic Racing In Lake Taupo

Epic Racing In Lake Taupo

Cara Baker, who trains with famed Australian swim coach Denis Cotterell, impressed marathon swimming giant Philip Rush after winning the New Zealand National 10K Championships in cold and choppy conditions in 2:09:53. Favored Alannah Jury was unable to swim due to an illness.

But like many of the world’s best open water swimmers, she plans to focus on both the pool and open water, “It was great. I did not know how I would go as I am still training for the 800 meters.”

Philip observed, “Cara’s performance was the eye-opener today. She swam so strongly and really dominated. We need to develop the open water group and send teams away, not just individuals. So it’s fantastic to develop depth in the women’s group with Alannah Jury and now Cara.”

Australian George O’Brien won the men’s title after a close battle with a trio of kiwis Casey Glover (the record holder for the Cook Strait), Philip Ryan and Kane Radford.

I did not want to leave it to a sprint, so I went for it,” said George of the race that had 15-knot winds.

It was so cold out there. I’ve never swim in conditions that cold. I managed to get the gap and hold on for the win. It’s great to come over here and to beat the kiwis. The win gives me confidence that my training is on track for the Australian championship and hopefully if I can perform well there I can qualify for some national teams this year.”

With the Southern Hemisphere in the midst of summer, Kane’s rivals had been more opportunities for open water racing than Kane who is currently training in Southern California and had not had an opportunity to race in the open water since the Tiburon Mile in September. “That was a bit disappointing today. I was hoping for better, but it was so cold out there. The experience in the U.S. has been incredible. I am back now and enjoying things at the Millennium and hope to push on now at the Australian championships [where the New Zealand world championship team will be selected].”

Philip Rush, who faced some of the world’s most difficult conditions over his long marathon swimming career, remarked, “The conditions were difficult. The guys handled it quite well. The worlds are in a lake like this that could chop up so it was good experience. It showed the Aussies are a bit ahead of us and we need to work hard to match them.”

The following day in the 5K race in Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake, Phillip Ryan out-sprinted Kane (second) after leading a pack with Kane and Bryn Murphy (third) George (fourth) and Casey (fifth).

Cara went two-for-two in the 5K and 10K as she beat Charlotte Webby in a photo-finish: 1:04:48.47 vs. 1:04:48.98 and Georgia Hind in third.

The 10K results for the top five women included:

1. Cara Baker, 2:09:53.39
2. Georgia Hind, 2:21:16.78
3. Caitlin Zillman, 16-17 2:25:46.77
4. Jamie-Leigh Austin, 2:33:28.89
5. Rebecca Roling, 2:36:39.66

The 10K results for the top five men included:

1. George O’Brien, 2:04:32.12
2. Casey Glover, 2:05:04.81
3. Phillip Ryan, 2:05:16.84
4. Kane Radford, 2:05:33.71
5. Bryn Murphy, 2:06:41.82

The New Zealand 5K and 10K National Championships were part of the Epic Swim Festival that included a Mini Epic 100-meter swim for 5-12 year olds, a Minor Epic Swim of 300 meters for 12-16 year olds, an Epic 2K, an Epic 5K and an Epic 10K race.

Photos courtesy of Photosport.

Copyright © 2010 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones