Fresh from setting a new national record for the 1500m at the New Zealand Open Swimming Championships, Nathan Capp has now claimed the National Ocean Swim Series title, after a thrilling finish in the season-ending State King of the Bays at Takapuna.
One of four swimmers in with a chance of winning the series and the $5,000 first prize, Capp took an early lead in the most challenging conditions faced by the swimmers this season. Driving rain and choppy seas made navigation tough, but the 22-year-old Aucklander rounded the first mark four body lengths clear of his nearest challenger.
However, he was soon caught by his rivals and a five-strong lead group quickly formed. By the halfway mark, pre-race favourite Yasunari Hirai from Japan was leading the pack.
But Capp says he never panicked when Hirai took the lead.
“He got a bit of a lead on us but then the distance stayed pretty static and I wasn’t sure if it was because he’d slowed down or we had sped up”, said Capp.
“There were a few swells that you could use to close the gap heading towards the last marker and I had pretty much caught him up when we turned towards home.”
As they rounded the final marker, Hirai and Capp were neck and neck, with Kane Radford and series leader Philip Ryan close behind.
But it was Capp who was quickest to his feet as they hit the beach for a sprint finish, claiming victory by 5 seconds. Hirai was second, Radford third and Ryan fourth – positions that mirrored their final overall series rankings.
“It’s a bit of a dream really,” said Capp. “It’s been an amazing week. It is one that will stay in my memory for a very long time.”
Meanwhile, in the women’s event, Charlotte Webby claimed overall series victory. However, Webby had to settle for second behind Emma Robinson in Saturday’s race.
“It’s fantastic to win the King of the Bays,” said Robinson. “It’s only the second event I’ve swum this season so I had no chance of winning the overall title, but it’s just great to cap off the week with a victory.”
Stefannie Gillespie finished third in Saturday’s race and second in the overall series standings, while a sixth place finish was enough for Abi Chapman to claim third.