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The start of something extraordinary

Radford makes it three at State NZ Open Water Championship

Rotorua swimmer Kane Radford showed his class in winning his third straight victory at the State New Zealand Open Water Championships in Taupo today.

Radford was close to the lead throughout the 10km event which also doubled as the Oceania Championships. He broke away on the final lap for the victory in 1:58:12 from Japanese champion Yusunari Hirai and Australia’s Ridge Grimsey.

The women’s race was dominated by Australian Sacha Downing, who trains with Radford at the Uniswim club in Perth. She won in dominant fashion from South Africa’s Sasha-Lee Nordengen with Ashburton’s Grace Somerville finishing third to claim the national title as the leading New Zealander.

The men’s field tussled for most of the race with half a dozen swimmers taking the lead at various stages. Radford swam with the pack for 9kms before breaking away with a dominant display of speed to take the national and Oceania title.

The world championship representative was pleased with how his race played out.

“It went pretty well to plan,” Radford said. “I was a little bit cold in the first lap so I decided to go out a little bit in the second lap and try and keep warm by picking up the speed for the boys a bit. It ended up working out well to come out with the win which was the main goal out there today.”

The 23 year old, who is currently training with the crack open water squad trained by Kiwi Mel Tantrum in Western Australia, has a busy race schedule planned for 2014 as he builds towards the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“This is a main event, it is my home nationals and it’s a good stepping stone for the rest of the season. To be able to come out here and win is great. We’ve got a couple more races throughout the year, so hopefully I can keep building and getting more experience.

“I’m definitely targeting to get on to the world cup circuit at the end of the year and hopefully I’ll qualify for Pan Pacs in August which is the main event in 2014,” Radford said.  

The New Zealand Championship silver and bronze medals went to Phillip Ryan and Troy Balvert respectively, while the Oceania podium placings were rounded out by Australian Ridge Grimsey and Ryan. 

The women’s race was dominated by Downing, who was recently selected for the Australian team for the BHP Series. She won by nearly a minute from Nordengen with Somerville just one second behind. It was an outstanding effort from the 17 year old Ashburton swimmer, who secured the national title as a result.

With Somerville ineligible, the Oceania title went to experienced Taranaki swimmer Charlotte Webby who finished the 10km race in 2:09.01 from Australian Leah Cutting Kiwi Courtney Carson third.

The championships continue tomorrow at Lake Taupo with the national and Oceania 5km event.

Results, Men 10km State NZ Open Water Championship overall: Kane Radford 1:58.12, 1; Yusunari Hirai (Japan) 1:58.18, 2; Ridge Grimsey (Australia) 1:58.18, 3.

Women: Sasha Downing (Australia) 2:07.04, 1; Sasha-Lee Nordengen (South Africa) 2:07.56, 2; Grace Somerville (Ashburton ) 2:07.57, 3.