Queenstown turned on a stunner for the final day of action at the Calder Stewart National Schools Triathlon Championships, with the athletes moving to Lake Hayes for the running of the Open Water Swim and Aquathlon National Championships.
One of the highlights of the day and indeed the entire festival came late in the piece with the run of Hamish Miller (Bethlehem College) as he outlasted a fast finishing Janus Staufenberg (Mt Aspring College) that had the crowd cheering right through to the line. The effort of Miller and Staufenberg highlighted what it means to win while representing your school, in particular for those in their final year and Miller emptied the tank in racing to victory.
The day had dawned a little ominously with low cloud and cool temperatures in the wake of the weather front that had moved through overnight, but by late morning that had given way to beautiful sunshine and temperatures approaching the low twenties as beanies and gloves made way for sunglasses and ice creams.
The open water swim did test the athletes however, with a water temperature of a cool 15.4 degrees, it was very much wetsuits and a sharp intake of breath upon entering the water.
Once again there was some brilliant racing, with the highlights including a blanket finish for the U16 boys with Danyon Hardie (Hamilton Boys High) just edging a thrilling race that saw the first four athletes all over the line inside a five second spread.
Amongst the most impressive efforts in the open water swim was that of Rebecca Cheyne, (Pukekohe High School). With a beautiful swim stroke, Cheyne proved a class above the competition to win by 8 seconds, making the swim look effortless as she cut through the top of Lake Hayes with ease.
It was then time for the aquathlon (swim/run) Championships, with many athletes backing up after the swim and enjoying the by now perfect conditions with the sun streaming down and the support of schoolmates, coaches and parents ringing around the Lake Hayes venue.
As mentioned Hamish Miller took out the feature U19 men's race in close fashion but Ari Graham (St Andrews) was too strong in the women's, running into the lead early on the final leg and easing away by 15 seconds from a fast finishing Jacey Cropp (Rangitoto College) and early leader Bayley-Rose Van de Coolwijk (St Mary's Wellington).
Other winners on the final day included a double up for Dylan McCullough (St Kentigern), taking out the U16 aquathlon title to go with his triathlon win yesterday and a strong performance from Hannah Knighton (Waikato Dio) who overcame a constant cold and cough to win the U16 Girls aquathlon title.
Hosted by the Southland Triathlon and Multisport Club, Event Director Sally Hayes reflected on a superb two days, with over 800 entries from all round the country, from as far north as Whangarei and East as Gisborne and of course from many schools in the South.
"The support these past two days has been tremendous, we want to say a huge thanks to all of the schools who have invested the time and resource in these athletes to have them here for the Calder Stewart Nationals. We love it here in the South, we are biased of course but where in the world could you race that is better than this in terms of the scenery and hospitality?
"We can't put on this sort of event without the support of many, to all of our commercial and trust fund partners we thank you for what you have helped put on for all the schools, in particular Calder Stewart. But also to our volunteers, our marshalls and officials, those on the water and on the course ensuring a safe race, thank you for your part in a great couple of days."