Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Ocean swim: Lloyd surprised to win iconic race

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Andrew Lloyd reaches the beach ahead of the finish of Sunday's Round the Mount swim. Photo / George Novak
Andrew Lloyd reaches the beach ahead of the finish of Sunday's Round the Mount swim. Photo / George Novak

The challenging Round the Mount Swim is traditionally won by long distance swimmers like defending men's champion Nathan Capp.

But on Sunday the 7.5km trek from Pilot Bay around the jagged rocks of Mauao, out into the ocean round Rabbit Island and back to the Mount Main Beach, was conquered by two top class triathletes.

With Capp deciding to do the shorter 4km race, Papamoa's Andrew Lloyd was first male home in the main event with Mikayla Nielsen from Cambridge taking out the women's race through the turbulent surf.

Round the Mount Swim women's champion Mikayla Nielsen. Photo/George Novak
Round the Mount Swim women's champion Mikayla Nielsen. Photo/George Novak

Ironically both athletes admit swimming is the weakest of their three triathlon disciplines.

Lloyd won in 1hr 31 min 54 sec ahead of Peter Campbell (1:33.17) with Nick Wotton third (1:44.00).

Lloyd was surprised he did so well because swimming that far in the ocean was out of his usual comfort zone.

Read more: Volleyball at the Mount: Japanese put on world class show

"It was all hard but for different reasons. The first bit was really hard because that was the most choppy and round the back was really hard because I was trying to stay on people's feet to try and save my energy," Lloyd said.

"Pete (Campbell) who was second led us all the way across to Rabbit and nearly got rid of me a couple of times so keeping with him was really hard, and then coming home was really hard 'cause I was trying to get away from him."

In the women's race, Nielsen, 21, finished in 1:38:40 ahead of Naomi Davoren (1:41:14) and Sandra Boubee (1:47:52).

To be honest it was actually okay going around the Mount when I was with other swimmers but coming out into the ocean you just didn't know where you were.
Mikayla Nielsen

Nielsen won the weekend's swim double of the Murray Dingle Memorial Bridge to Bridge Swim on Saturday and the Round the Mount endurance effort.

"To be honest it was actually okay going around the Mount when I was with other swimmers but coming out into the ocean you just didn't know where you were," she said.

"It was pretty much just head up all the time navigating and when I saw the (final) orange buoy I was just so excited to get back.

"I have never done this distance in a swim in the open water, so it is pretty special yeah."

Nielsen says Saturday's race from the Harbour Bridge to Matapihi Bridge was harder than she thought it would be.

"I thought it would be easier going with the current but it was a tough swim and everyone was close together."

Lloyd missed out on his own swim double, beaten into second place at the Bridge to Bridge by rising Otumoetai Swimming Club star Daniel Shanahan.

The 12-year-old, who broke the New Zealand 12-and-under 200m short course freestyle record in December, finished strongly to beat Lloyd.

4km Round the Mount Swim around Mauao, starting in Pilot Bay. Photo/George Novak
4km Round the Mount Swim around Mauao, starting in Pilot Bay. Photo/George Novak

- Bay of Plenty Times

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