Local stars in the swim
By MEL MARTIN
THE surprise in 14-year-old Nicola Bird's eyes was unmistakable when she found out she had won the 12-15 category of the 2000 metre race at yesterday's Novotel Pacific Bay Ocean Swims.
"I'm pretty stoked. It was a big swim, so I didn't expect that," Nicola said, as she caught her breath.
Not that Nicola got that result by chance ? she trains every morning for two hours, but mostly in the pool so the conditions were a bit different.
"It was really rough with all the swimmers, it was like a washing machine in there," she said.
For some it was a good opportunity to train, for others it was about community spirit, but for every entrant in the Ocean Swims, it was a whole lot of fun.
"Today I set a very low standard and failed to achieve it anyway! My level of incompetence outdid itself," Peter Wood, 51, laughed as he finished the 600 metre race.
This was Peter's first appearance in the Ocean Swims, which he entered with Barry Campton, 50, who has taken part in the swims since the beginning.
"I enter every year to support the community. You don't enter to win, it's such a good way to raise money for the community," Barry said.
"No, he enters to beat Peter," Peter said.
And that's exactly what Barry did.
This year's Ocean Swims attracted a huge number of entries, even one from the UK.
"I swim at home for our local team, so when I heard about this event I thought I might come and have a go," Louise Maybury, of Yorkshire said.
Louise had been slightly concerned about sharks, a fear just about every Aussie she met took great pleasure in reinforcing.
"I didn't see any though," she laughed.
For many, just crossing the finish line was achievement enough.
"We had fun amongst the young people, although they did overtake us," Lesley Miller, 57, said after the 600 metre race.
"You think you're doing pretty well, until you turn around and see hardly anyone there," Margaret Gill, 47, added.
Organiser Mick Maley couldn't have been happier with the day and the turnout.
"It was picture perfect, just what the doctor ordered," he said.
"You really have to hand it to all the volunteers. It's a well-oiled machine, all these people who make it all happen."
To the overall winner, Taylor Hardy, 15, who was born and bred in Coffs Harbour and recently moved to the Gold Coast, this was just another small step towards much bigger goals ? the Olympics.
"It was terrific. This is a good swim to see where I'm at, to get ready for the nationals," he said.
And for the first woman to cross the 2000 metre finish line, Courtney Hancock, 17, it was a good trial run for the state and nationals title, where she's headed next.
"I wanted to go hard and see if I could hold the pace," she said.
"This event is awesome, you can be competing, or my grandmother is going in the 250 metre."