Sierra Thomas was the first woman in Sunday's Opening Splash swim over 2km from Tahunanui Beach to the Nelson Yacht Club. Photo: Supplied.

Fourteen year olds dominate sea swims


The perfect summer continued to bless Nelson sea swimmers as the first race of the Clements Endurance Series between Tahunanui Beach and the Nelson Yacht Club took place on Sunday.

The Opening Splash attracted 110 swimmers, eight choosing the short option of 600m from the Richardson St Steps and the remaining 102 doing the full distance.

The rivalries of the Thursday night Port Nelson series spilled over, with Luke Kelly and Hayden Squance continuing their battle at the front of the field. The 14-year-olds Sierra Thomas and Sophie Alexander were very close behind, grabbing the top women’s spots.

Squance took the initiative for most of the distance, but Kelly showed that he’s slightly stronger, either in raw speed or determination, as he grabbed the lead once the finish was in sight to stop the clock at 24 minutes 36 seconds – eight seconds ahead of Squance.

Terry Bone, twice the age of the leaders, took third in 25min 28sec. While the temperature and tide were perfect, the breeze meant that swimmers couldn’t relax as they splashed past Magazine Point, Fifeshire Rock, the Richardson St Steps and Haulashore, with the surface flattening out over the final few hundred metres.

Thomas was relentless behind Bone, chasing him all the way to finish a second behind in fourth place in 25min 29sec, a second ahead of Josh Sheridan, with Alexander four seconds further back. Yet another 14-year-old, Piper Riley, was the third woman to finish, stooping the clock in 26min 24sec, ahead of 54-year-old Christina Harris (28.18).

Women continued to match their male counterparts, with Isabella Thurlow (29.20), Marlborough swimmer Emma Moore (29.38), 59-year-old Janis Crampton (30.53), Wendy Healey (31.25), Renee Hunt (31.30), Deborah Hambly from Masterton (31.42) and Jude Vincent (32.14) putting 13 women into the top 30 finishers. In this most democratic of sports, 9-year-old Marama Hambly finished the 600m swim in 23min 46sec, while 82-year-old Kerry Bateman (57.53) was unchallenged to win his 80-89 age group.

Odette Llewellin (14.40) was the quickest in the 600m swim, ahead of Annabelle Clark (15.41), Lottie Stow (16.47) and Nettie Stow (17.44).

Swimming continues in the Port Nelson Series on Thursday, while the Clements Endurance Series continues with the Eyebright Mile on December 31.

Information, results at