Monday, November 17, 2008

Three-peat for Radford in the Harbour

Scott Rice, one of the nominees for the 2008 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year (see below), is one of the few people who can halt all marine traffic in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.

But, it was 18-year-old Kane Radford who was the talk of the town after his surprisingly powerful win over Trent Grimsey who won the Waikiki Roughwater Swim, the RCP Tiburon Mile and the Eyeline 1000 Noosa Ocean Swim earlier this year.

In only its fifth year, Rice has built up the Sovereign Harbour Crossing, to be the biggest ocean swim in New Zealand, attracting 1,440 entrants to the 2.8K race from Bayswater to downtown Auckland. The Sovereign Harbour Crossing is the first of five races in the popular Sovereign New Zealand Ocean Swim Series. In a country of only 4.1 million people, this is equivalent of having 103,000 swimmers in a single open water swim in the U.S.

Radford was not given an opportunity to qualify for the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim, but he apparently has plans to rectify that situation for London in 2012. Radford will soon start training with Olympian open water swimmer Chloe Sutton and the famed distance training group at the Mission Viejo Nadadores under Bill Rose, the head open water swimming coach for the US. "This is an amazing chance for me. To train with Bill Rose and his squad who focus on long-distance training is incredible."

Radford swam across the Waitemata Harbour (Auckland) in 33:00, easily out-swimming Australian Grimsey (34:12) and young Aucklander Brett Newall (34:14). Double world championship bronze medalist Kate Brookes-Peterson, a native of New Zealand who is now an Australian citizen, came back home to win in 34:25 far ahead of Penelope Marshall in 36:51 and Charlotte Webby in 37:21.

Rice says the five-year milestone is a special one for the event. "In the five years of the Sovereign Harbour Crossing, we have built up real tradition and history in what is now an iconic event on the Auckland sporting and recreation calendar. Anyone can drive across the harbour bridge, take a ferry from wharf to wharf and some of us are lucky enough to have sailed in pleasure craft on the harbour. But it is a rare opportunity to be able to swim across the harbour with the support of Surf Lifesaving New Zealand, the Coastguard and the port authorities. That is part of what makes this event so special, the rare nature of it and the sheer challenge of it. For many people this is the biggest and most demanding event they will take on in their lives. Consequently the sense of achievement upon making the finish line is huge. The smiles on the faces of all who make it bring as much joy to us as organizers as it does to them as individuals."

One of the finishers was 74-year-old Dick Smith who completed his first open water swim in 1951 and finished this race in 1:00:36.

Upper photo of Radford at finish line. Middle photo of Kane after race. Lower photo of Kate Brookes-Peterson at the 2007 World Swimming Championships.

Reminder: the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year and the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year voting continues. Click here for more details of the male nominees and here for the female nominees.

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