Swimmers limber up for Mount

By Peter White

Ocean swim

One of the highlights of the summer swim season will be held for the 30th time at Mount Maunganui on Sunday morning.

The Round the Mount 4km swim starts from Pilot Bay at 8.30am and as always has attracted swimmers of all ages and capabilities.

Wellington's Ben Campbell-MacDonald will start as hot favourite again after winning in 2009, 2011 and 2012, but there will be plenty of support for Greerton Swim club's Nathan Capp, who interrupted Campbell-MacDonald's winning streak by claiming victory in 2010.

Other local swimmers to watch are Perry Farrell and Mason Pickering, who have been among the best competing at the Team Shorebreak Inc Ocean Swim Series held off Pilot Bay.

The women's race is wide open as last year's winner Emmanuelle Bescheron from France, and the 2011 winner Rebecca Kingsford, will not be swimming. This opens up a great opportunity for Otumoetai's Jessica Miller and Sarah Mortimer from Hamilton to claim the title.

Event organiser Sheryl McLay, from Shorebreak Aquatics, says there is extra interest in this year's race as it is the 30th.

"No swimmer has done them all," she said. "I did the first one, a distant memory now, Mount Lifeguard Service president Peter Fitzsimmons has swum most years, and then there is 82-year-old Sid Salek, who has done 27, and the event's founder Richard Arnold, who I believe has done 26.

"The first Round the Mount in 1983 was a 7.5km swim, which went around Rabbit Island as well as Mauao, and the 4km swim was added in 1984. The 7km was discontinued after the 1996 race.

"The event was held in Pilot Bay three times during its history in 1989, 2008 and 2009, when unsafe conditions made the swim around Mauao impossible."

McLay says tidal conditions make every year's race unique.

"The tide is a little difficult this year. We will start at the end of the incoming tide, which means swimmers will have to wait for tidal assistance around the back of the Mount until they have turned past the Tangaroa statue.

"It should make for an interesting race as tactics and thinking will come into play a bit more."

Many of the swimmers entered in the Round the Mount race will be starters in the Murray Dingle Memorial Bridge to Bridge Swim on Saturday, between the Matapihi Rail Bridge and Tauranga Harbour Bridge.

The Bridge to Bridge Swim is over 1500m and Saturday's event will take place on an incoming tide, so will start at the Harbour Bridge end at 2.15pm.

There is also a 600m swim for beginners.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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