WAIKIKI BEACH, Hawaii, September 7. WEST Australian Travis Nederpelt caused a major upset at the 41st Annual Waikiki Roughwater Swim in Hawaii, finishing ahead of North Carolina's Chip Peterson, who won the Pan Pacific 10K Championship two weeks ago.
Third place was Alex Meyer (MA) and fourth was Codie Grimsey (QLD, Australia), who is the younger brother of defending Waikiki Roughwater Champion Trent Grimsey. Trent did not compete this year due to illness.
A total of 965 swimmers took the blue Pacific waters off Waikiki Beach today, representing 22 US states and eight countries including athletes from Japan, Canada, Italy and Great Britain. With so many competitors, the race took off in four separate waves of starters.
It was one of the fastest years in the event's history but no records were broken. Only two swimmers did not finish. Nederpelt, 21, completed the 2.4-mile ocean race in a time of 45 minutes and 40 seconds – approximately 3.5 minutes short of the race record of 42:13, set in 1995 by Australia's Ian McLellan.
Conditions were anything but rough water today, with light winds and very little swell or currents, opening the course up equally to both ocean swimmers and pool specialists. Less than 1.5 minutes separated the top five finishers.
"It was a last minute decision for me to swim," said Nederpelt. "Trent got sick, the guy who won this last year. Generally speaking I'm not an open water swimmer, I'm more of a pool swimmer. But I wanted to mix it up and see how I'd go. About 800 meters from the end I got the lead. All you can do is put yourself in the mix and see what happens. I think it turned out pretty well!"
Peterson, 22, came hoping for a win, but wasn't necessarily surprised to finish runner-up:
"I knew that we had a whole bunch of good swimmers coming and it was going to be a good race, no matter what," said Peterson. "I know Alex (Meyer) the best, so that's who I was looking eye-to-eye with. I didn't know what to expect from the Aussies. There was a lot of speed through the whole thing, there wasn't really any relaxed part, so it was a bit of a sprint throughout. I knew we'd have quite a few leaders at the front."
Heading the women's field, Australian Luane Rowe notched up her third win in as many years with more than three minutes separating her from runner-up Eney Jones (Colorado, USA). Rowe, 20, was in 23rd place overall.
"It's hard not to get distracted by the fish and the turtles when you're swimming, it's gorgeous," said Rowe. "It's getting more and more competitive as people hear about this great swim. I know that next year some of the American Olympic swimmers are coming. It's going to get a lot more popular and the level of competition is going to rise. It's going to get tougher and tougher."
The top placed local swimmers were former champion John Flanagan, 5th overall, and Christina Boring, who took fourth in the women's race. Both are from Honolulu. John Flanagan won this event in 2000 and 2001 and now trains many of Hawaii's top swimmers.
"This race is very unique, there's so much to it," said Flanagan. "It was gorgeous today, you couldn't ask for better conditions. It's as close to a lake as you can get. It would have been nice to have more waves coming in to the finish to get that extra boost. But a lot of experience comes into play. This is a very very competitive race, one of the most competitive I've seen. As word gets out I'm sure more and more people are going to come in future."
Complete results can be found at pseresults.com/events/recent
TOP 5 OVERALL: 1. Travis Nederpelt (Aust) 45 minutes 40 seconds 2. Chip Peterson (NC) 45:46 3. Alex Meyer (MA) 45:53 4. Codie Grimsey (Aust) 46:01 5. John Flanagan (HI) 47:12 (won this event in 2000 and 2001) WOMEN TOP 3: 1. Luane Row (Aust) 51:18 2. Melissa Myers 52:38 3. Eney Jones (CO) 54:34 4. Christina Boring (HI) 54:35
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