Event Preview of the 2024 Orangetheory NZ Open Water Swimming Championships
The first national event of the 2024 calendar year gets underway this weekend with the 2024 Orangetheory NZ Open Water Swimming Championships held in conjunction with the Banana Boat NZ Ocean Swim Series in the beautiful Lake Taupo.
With 135 swimmers taking part in the championships and more than 800 swimmers part of the day, we have an action-packed day of racing on Saturday 13 January. All eyes will be on the first event as the 10km and 7.5km kick starts the morning from 6.30am.
Reigning national champion in the Men's 10km and 5km events, Alex Dunkley (Roskill) will be looking to retain his crown across both distances after a strong outing at the 2023 NSW Open Water Swimming Championships last month, winning his age group in the 10km. Larn Hamblyn-Ough (Coast) will be hoping to go stroke for stroke again after a nail-biter close finish between these two in the 5km last year, fresh off a holiday in the United Kingdom. Louis Clark (North Shore) will also be a swimmer to watch as he extends out further than his distance pool swimming.
In the Women's 10km, 2021 and 2022 national champion Ruby Heath (Neptune & Swim Dunedin) will be hoping to re-claim the top step on the podium. Teammate Emilia Finer (Neptune & Swim Dunedin) will be hoping to secure her maiden national championship title after a strong 6th place overall finish in Sydney last month. Neve Tassicker (Nga Tai Tuatea a Taraika) will be another to keep a close eye on as she will be hoping to take the leap from national 5km champion last year.
In the Men's 7.5km, Jack Potier (Coast) is fresh off winning his age group in NSW last month and will be hoping to take out this distance. Commonwealth Youth Games medallist, Kevin Zhang (Roskill) will be one to watch as well as teammate Daniel Kregting (Roskill) who won the NZ Secondary School Open Water Swimming Championships crown in Taupo last year.
For the Women's 7.5km, Sophie Hay (Hamilton Aquatics) and reigning champion Olivia Bates (Howick Pakuranga) will be the two to watch after both having impressive results at the NSW Open Water Championships last month.
The 5km events will get underway from 10.30am, with Alex Dunkley hoping to retain the title after a big warm-up swim in the 10km. Ben Isles (Aquagym) will also be completing the double, whilst Quinn Boyle (Hamilton Aquatics) and Blair Helms (North Shore) will also be out for an upset.
The Women's 5km will once again see teammates Ruby Heath and Emilia Finer battle it out, with a raft of youngsters nipping at their feet along the way.
The Men's and Women's 2.5km fields have a number of swimmers in the mix, with a mixture of first-time Open Water swimmers amongst some experienced campaigners. This one-lap dash will be sure to one to watch when it gets underway at 12.30pm.
The Men's 2.5km Multi-Class event has three swimmers heading to the start line with Guy Harrison (Heretaunga Sundevils), David Beck (Club 37) and Tate Pichon (Club 37). We look forward to seeing these three battle it out in the water too.
A few swimmers will be completing the Epic Epic (10km, 5km and 2.5km), including Emilia Finer, Ben Isles and Caitlin O'Reilly (North Shore). O'Reilly has prepared well after an impressive 2023 completing some of the channel crossings across different corners of the globe.
The last event of the day will be the 4 x 1km Relay where 11 teams will take to the start line across a few age groups from 2.30pm. This event is always a popular one and a great way to round out the day. Reigning champions Roskill Swimming Club look well positioned to retain their title by being the first past the post. An exciting battle appears to be brewing between Hamilton Aquatics and North Shore C for the first women's team to the finish line as well.
Good luck to all of the swimmers taking part in 2024 Orangetheory NZ Open Water Swimming Championships and the Epic Swim.