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International Flavour to State Open Water Championships

The State New Zealand Open Water Championships take on an international flavour in Taupo next week.

There are swimmers from Australia, South Africa and Japan competing against New Zealand’s best, with the event also doubling as the official Oceania Championship.

The Oceania Championships in the pool take place on 20-23 May in Auckland, but the Open Water component has been integrated into the State Epic Swim weekend on 11-12 January.

An in-form Kane Radford (Swim Rotorua) leads the way for New Zealand in the men’s 10km event along with teammates Phillip Ryan (Waterhole) and Troy Balvert (St Peters) while the women’s team comprises Charlotte Webby (Aquabladz Taranaki), Bridget Maher (Waterhole) and Courtney Carson (SwimZone).

In the women’s race, Kiwi world championship representative Emma Robinson (Capital) will race in both the 5km and 10km races. There’s a strong group from Australia led by 16 year old Sacha Downing from the powerful Uniswim club in Western Australia. She was fourth in the Australian Trials recently, just ahead of South Australia’s Alice Whiley, the World University Games and World Championship representative, and Leah Cutting, the Australian 5km champion in 2012.

Also racing is Elizabeth Bellis, another Uniswim club swimmer, and South African junior world championship representative Sasha-Lee Nordengen, who is training in Western Australia at present.

The Australian charge in the men’s race is headed by 19-year-old Ridge Grimsey, the youngest of the three super-talented Grimsey brothers. He was fourth in the Tiberon Mile in San Francisco behind Radford and recently beat Ky Hurst to win the Noosa 1000 surf race.

He is joined by the well-performed fellow Queenslander Josh Richardson while there will be interest in Japan’s Yasunari Hirai. He is Japan’s first 10km swimmer to qualify for the Olympics, finishing 15th in London and also competed in the world championships in Spain last year.

The programme in Taupo is:

Saturday 11 January

8am Mid Epic (1km – 10 years and over)
8:15 Epic 5km (12 years and over)
8:30 Minor Epic (500m – 9-16 years)
9am Mini Epic (100m – 5-10 years)
10am NZ 10km Open Water championships/Oceania Championships
10:05 Epic 10km (13 years and over)
1.30pm Epic 2.5km (12 years and over)

Sunday 12 January

9am Masters 2.5km Classic
10am NZ 5km Open Water Championship/Oceania Championships