BONDI Rescue Lifeguards were the big attraction but a former clean sweep male champion and a local teenaged girl stole their thunder at today's Beachside Radiology Coffs Coast Ocean Swims series.
In 2010, up-and-coming ocean racer Michael Sheil swept all before him with victory in the 2000m long course, 600m short course and 250m charity swims.
Sheil beat out visiting lifeguard Jake Nolan in the long course race and was expected to do the same last year but missed the event to compete at the national championships, allowing the TV personality to capture his first title.
This year, Sheil not only returned to again complete the treble - relegating Nolan to the runners-up prize - but he also shaved an extraordinary 27 seconds off the race record.
"I'm swimming much faster than two years ago, even though most of my racing these days is between 5000m and 10km," Sheil revealed.
"Those distances are pretty common but the 2000m today was sort of like a sprint and the 600 and 250 went so fast.
"I guess it's because I've got so used to going at that pace the time just happened out of the blue."
The time was 0:26.43 with Nolan 34 seconds in arrears.
"It was a good race but Michael was too fast for me," Nolan said graciously.
"I gave it everything but had nothing left in the tank on the way home."
The biggest cheers at the presentation went to 14-year-old Coffs Harbour clubbie Zoe Burgess who won the 600m short course and 250m charity swims after finishing in second place behind Tamarama rival Maddi Blumberg in the 2000m long course event.
Recognised as a budding Iron woman champion, Zoe was expected to miss today's series due to surf championship commitments.
"Luckily, I'm in the seniors which are on next weekend so I was able to be here today," she said.
To make the day even more memorable, Zoe's name was among those called out as a random prize draw winner.
For Blumberg, it was her first competitive visit to Coffs Harbour but she promised a defence of the title in 2013.
The Bondi SLSC member was particularly pleased to beat her boyfriend home in the 2000m event.
"Instead of the surf club activities I've been doing the circuit of ocean swim races over summer and this is the breakthrough, my first ever win," she said.
"It was a good race and really fun."
While Nolan will return next year with the Bondi Rescue Lifeguards, Sheil said his professional career is blossoming and he may be overseas when the next series is held.
"Later in the year I'm off to the FINA World Championships and there's a lot of training involved," he added.
"The swims will be as long as 35km and will take plenty of preparation."
2000m Long Course
Michael Sheil (Thornlands) 0:26.43
Jake Nolan (Beacon Hill) 0:27.17
Josh McBrien (Corindi Beach) 0:31.00
Maddi Blumberg (Tamarama) 0:31.27
Zoe Burgess (Coffs Harbour) 0:32.21
Jess McCormack (Kingscliff) 0:32.55
600m Short Course
Michael Sheil (Thornlands) 0:07.10
Matt Greenway (Sawtell) 0:07.40
Josh McBrien (Corindi Beach) 0:07.44
Zoe Burgess (Coffs Harbour) 0:08.09
Danielle Doppler (Killarney Vale) 0:08.26
Lauren Dam (Bonville) 0:08.29
250m Charity Swim
Michael Sheil (Thornlands)
Daniel Bannerman (Korora)
Zach Donnelly (Emerald Beach)
Zoe Burgess (Coffs Harbour)
Danielle Doppler (Killarney Vale)
Shannon Small (South Grafton)
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