Aaron Royal, on his 22nd birthday, was able to defend his Australia Day Aquathon title after winning today’s event, a 900mtr swim/7km run in a time of 36.52. It came down to a sprint finish with Royle narrowly crossing the line ahead of NSWIS team mate Shane Barrie who returns to the racing scene for the first time since spending close to twelve months on the sidelines due to injury.
No rain or the forecast of wet weather was going to deter the thousands of people who flocked to Wollongong Harbour today for the thirteenth Australia Day Aquathon â€“ Australia’s largest swim-run event.
As volunteers began the task of bumping in at 5am, weather conditions weren’t ideal. Fortunately, the rain ceased just before racing commenced.
It was Ben Allen, who has returned from a stint racing in Europe, who led the men out of the water and onto the run. It wasn’t long before Royle & Barrie closed in before taking out the race, one minute ahead of Michael Murphy who finished in 37.59.
In the women’s race it was Natalie Van Coevorden who finished in a time on 41.20min, just 0.29 seconds ahead of Grace Musgrove and Jacki Slack from the UK who finished in third place with a time of 43.35.
The kids were the highlight of today, with a record number of entries seeing nearly 400 kids, and in some instances their parents, line the foreshore. For many this was their first introduction to racing, and there is no doubt, there was a handful of future champions in this crowd.
To further identify this talent, the Aquathon was Â targeted as a â€˜talent ID’ opportunity with scouts from High Performance Tri scouting the athletes aged 14 years or over for an opportunity to receive a scholarship worth up to $20,000 over four years. The aim of the program is to assist these budding athletes in reaching their goals, and ultimately too see them line up in the 2016 (for some 2020!) Olympics.