Sam Sheppard, 23, has won an unprecedented fifth title at the GMHBA Lorne Pier to Pub. Sheppard edged out Commonwealth Games silver medalist Mack Horton to complete the 1.2km course in 11.51.
Harriet Brown won her fourth open female crown in 12.25, narrowly beating Laura McGlone.
“I am really happy. I love this swim and I love Lorne. I grew up at this event, and did my first as a 12-year-old,” said Brown, 24.
The inaugural winner of the 5,000m was 16-year-old Dean Wilson, who is training for the Rio Olympics. The female winner was Kate Murphy, 35, who combines her training with a career in medical research.
The Lorne Pier to Pub is the world’s largest open water race, with 5,000 competitors of all ages and abilities. Originally a bet between four friends to see who could swim the fastest from pier to pub, the race is now in its 35th year. Race director Mark Williamson heralded the success of the event and applauded the 20,000-strong crowd and 5,000 competitors.
“It’s such a uniquely Australian event. We have some cracker years, but this was really the best event we have ever had,” he said.
But with so many competitors, the event is as much about the inspiring stories of everyday swimmers as it is about elite racing. This year’s oldest competitor, 91-year old Eric Kennedy, clocked an impressive 28.14. Crockett Cooke, a Motor Neurone sufferer, completed the course in 50.38.
The race is run by 450 volunteers and all proceeds fund the Lorne Surf Life Saving Club to provide quality patrolling and safety of swimmers at Lorne beach.