Swimming: Big races see locals take the top places

The outstanding coaching programmes and abundance of natural talent in the Western Bay were showcased over the weekend with local swimmers winning two of the most prestigious events of the swim calendar.

The inner Tauranga Harbour Bridge to Bridge swim raced on Saturday between the Tauranga Harbour Bridge and the Hairini Rail Bridge was won by two Mount Maunganui Surf Lifesavers in Perry Farrell and Jessica Miller.

Both swimmers then backed up superbly well on Sunday morning in the 30th running of the intense 4km Round the Mount swim that took place in ideal conditions and attracted a bumper entry field of 210 swimmers.

Farrell finished second behind Nathan Capp from the Greerton swim club, and ahead of third placed Ben Campbell-MacDonald who has won the event three times.

Miller made it two wins for the weekend when she was the comprehensive winner of the women's division, beating Hamilton's Sarah Mortimer by 4m 46s.

Miller's win is even more remarkable as it was her first attempt and the win did not come without a few worrying moments swimming through Pilot Bay around Mauao.

"It was pretty choppy around the Mount and as it is the first time I have done the swim I wasn't really too sure what route to take. But I tried to stick to the Mount as close as possible because it would be a shorter route but there were definitely a few rocks and I nearly swam into one of them.

"I thought it was going to be a hard race but I managed to get away from the second pack and catch up to the two guys who just beat me and I swam with them most of the way.

"I came here to win and really wanted it but I knew there were a few other fast swimmers here but I tried to stay confident and positive. I think that is always the way to be, to believe in yourself."

Miller has some major events coming up in February and March that she hopes will see her good form continue on.

"I do pool swimming as well for Otumoetai and we have our nationals at the end of February, so I am training for them, and also the surf life saving nationals which are at the Mount a couple of weeks later.

All the training we have done for this and the Round the Mount all leads up to those big competitions."

Capp's swim was tough for him aerobically after he finished fourth in the New Zealand 10km championships on Lake Taupo on Saturday. He admitted to struggling to lift his arms after his win at the Mount beach finish but the pain was all worth it in the end as he nailed his second win following his 2010 victory.

"It was tough out there and my arms were feeling so sore as soon as I started swimming," Capp said. "It was hard to get them going and I eventually found a little bit of rhythm coming up through the Maori warrior area.

"The navigation coming round that side of the Mount is difficult and I never really know where the gap in the rocks is. That is quite hard to judge and at one stage I thought I was turning in and then thought no there's no gap there and came back out.

"There is a lot of luck in it, I'm sure. I took a wide way out of Pilot Bay while the others took the inside route so there is a bit of guess work I guess."

Capp trains at the High Performance Centre in Auckland which he says has made a huge difference to his times.

"The level of the other swimmers I swim going from here to up there is a massive step and it is probably the best move I could ever make for my swimming."

Perry has every reason to be happy with his progress this summer, especially in his first year of ocean swimming.

He is grateful to the Ocean Swim series for giving him the confidence to take on longer events.

"My preparation for the Bridge to Bridge was pretty ideal with doing the Thursday night swims in Pilot Bay, which was pretty good warm-up for this," Farrell said.

"The biggest challenge was trying to sprint it and not let other people swim in your wash, which can be quite annoying. I got off to a pretty good start and held on.

"I saw a few fast swimmers on the line so I was a bit nervous and I was not too sure how it was going to go. I sprinted at the start to try and get away from the pack and then I could swim my own race but the guy who came second (Ben Campbell-MacDonald) managed to step on to my feet and once that happens you have to swim with them the whole way, which makes it so much more of a harder race."

Farrell did not have time to waste as he was straight back on patrol, ensuring other swimmers much less capable than him would have a safe time in the water.


Men: Nathan Capp, Open division, 48m 42s, Perry Farrell, Under-19, 49m 12s, Ben Campbell-MacDonald, Open, 49m 19s, Brent Foster, Masters, 50m 07s, Mason Pickering, Under-19, 52m 56s

Women: Jessica Miller, Under-19, 53m 11s, Sarah Mortimer, Open, 57m 57s, Naomi Davoren, Masters, 58m 16s, Rebecca Firth, Under-19, 58m 32s, Mikayla Nielsen, Under-19, 58m 45s

Under-16: Justin Pickering 54m 57s, Isaac Marshall 58m 56s, Georgia Hacker 1h 02m 41s

- Bay of Plenty Times

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