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Allred & Dunkley Take Out The Top Honours

2023 Orangetheory Epic & NZ Open Water Champs

The 2023 Orangetheory NZ Open Water Swimming Championships and Epic Swim were held in stunning conditions in Lake Taupo over the weekend. With 155 swimmers in the championships and 635 entries in the public event, there was some excellent racing and opportunities to maximise the lovely summer weather. With an adjustment the swim course having shorter laps of 1.25km in 2023, the crowd along the beach were treated to a better spectacle as the swimmers passed by more frequently, and the feeders were able to relax on the beach in between laps.

The 10km event on Saturday morning took place with compulsory wetsuits, just under 18-degrees. Whilst the water temperature was a little chilly, it was Ashleigh Allred (St Peter’s) who was off to a hot start to establish an early lead and join the leading pack of males. Her early move proved to be insurmountable as she dominated the race from start to finish to claim her maiden national 10km title (2:10.31). 2-time reigning champion and Aquablack, Ruby Heath (Neptune), had a strong back end to move up into second (2:12.53). Talitha McEwan (Mt Maunganui) had a strong showing throughout the race to round out the podium whilst claiming the 15-17 years victory (2:13.38).

Alex Dunkley (Roskill) continued his rise in the Open Water to claim his maiden national 10km title. A small lead group established an early lead and held together for the first 5km before Dunkley made his move to be first to the line (2:01.05). Larn Hamblyn-Ough (Coast) continued from his fine 2022 form to place second after pulling away from the lead pack in the second half of the race (2:03.32). Reigning champ Eligh Ashby (Neptune) came in for completed the podium (2.08.39).

The 7.5km event was held during the 10km race, where Daniel Callebaut (Aquabladz) was the first across the line (1:33.55) to win the boys 15-17 years. Olivia Bates (Howick Pakuranga) was the first girl to win the girls 13-14 years (1:46.07). Arianna Roberts was close behind to claim the girls 15-17 years (1:48.11) and Enoch Wu rounded out the boys 13-14 years (2:23.20).

The 5km event was a great spectacle, with some close finishes that had the crowd cheering. Larn Hamblyn-Ough (Coast) led from the start and entering the final 1.25km lap had a strong lead over the reigning champ Alex Dunkley (Roskill). As the wind began to pick up slightly, Dunkley made his move and had closed the gap by the final buoy. The last 100m sprint to the finish was close, with both swimmers touching in the same time in an incredible finish that came down to the judges positioned at the finish, with Dunkley retaining his national 5km title (59.37). Speaking after the race, both were unsure who had taken the victory. The close finishes continued, with a battle for third falling to Daniel Callebaut (Aquabladz).

In the women’s 5km, a small group had established the ascendency through the first three laps, resulting in a 100m sprint to the line from the final turn buoy as well. It was Neve Tassicker (Nga Tai Tuatea a Taraika) who claimed her maiden national 5km crown (1:05.29), just one second ahead of Lena Hamblyn-Ough (Coast – 1:05.30) with Sophie Hay another two seconds back (Hamilton Aquatics – 1:05.32).

The 2.5km event was comfortably taken out by youngster Christopher Callebaut (Aquabladz – 32.21) ahead of reigning 2.5km champ Zac Dell (Pukekohe – 32.44) and Orlando Hardie (Hamilton Aquatics – 32.57). Neve Tassicker (Nga Tai Tuatea a Taraika – 33.40) took out the female 2.5km title with a comfortable gap ahead of Ava Wilson (Carterton – 34.05) and Olivia Bates (Howick Pakuranga – 34.19).

The 4 x 1km Club Relay was hotly contested, with Coast the first team across the line to claim the Mixed 18+ win (52.28), with St Peter’s second overall (55.22) and Pukekohe in for third overall (56.17).


O’Reilly and Polyntcev The Long Distance Victors

Caitlin O’Reilly (Waitoki) claimed the overall fastest Epic Epic (4:29.21). Putting together the second fastest 10km (2:35.01), eighth fastest 5km (1:16.08) and 26th fastest 2.5km (38.10) was a super effort from the youngster who continues to devour long distance swims in impressive fashion.

Ivan Polyntcev (Auckland) won the overall male Epic Epic (4:43.27). Polyntcev put together strong times in the 10km (2:40.47), 5km (1:20.53) and 2.5km (41.15) over the weekend.

There were lots of participants in the popular Mid Epic 1km and Epic 2.5km races, as well as opportunities for the kids in the Mini Epic 100m and Minor Epic 500m races and those who challenged themselves in the longer Epic 5km, Epic 10km and the combined Epic Epic events. The event catered for swimmers of all motivations and abilities in the pristine Lake Taupo waters.

The introduction of the Epic 4 x 500m Relay was taken out by “Fast Buoyz” (27.39), a team made up of Swimming NZ staff, with some of the best swimmers in NZ taking part in this fun racing opportunity. The popular Epic 4 x 1km Relay was taken out by four swimmers from Roskill Swim Club in a dominant display (51.20).

Congratulations to all the swimmers who took part in any distance across the weekend.


More Opportunities to Be Involved

Whilst we are working on dates for 2024 NZ Open Water, don’t miss out on the new opportunity created for those aged 18+.

Swimming NZ and NZ Masters Swimming are proudly joining forces to deliver the 2023 NZ Masters Swimming Championships at the brand new Hawke’s Bay Regional Aquatic Centre. The event will take place from Thursday 25 – Saturday 27 May and is open to anyone aged 18+, so this is a great way to stay active in the water during the cooler months and promises to be a great social event.

It's open to everyone, you don’t need to be a member, and there will be plenty of relay opportunities to swim alongside your family and whanau. So, make a weekend of it and check out the local wineries as well. Keep an eye on the Swimming NZ website for more details over the next few weeks on how to enter.

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