Nearly 1,000 compete in 43rd Annual Waikiki Roughwater Swim - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Nearly 1,000 compete in 43rd Annual Waikiki Roughwater Swim

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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) -

At 9 a.m. at Kaimana Beach next to the Waikiki Natatorium, nearly 1,000 swimmers from all ages and swim backgrounds raced into the water to take on mother nature and try to prove that they could endure the 2.4 mile race course of the 43rd Annual Waikiki Roughwater Swim.

"Right from the start, two lines were kind of made," said elite swimmer Eric Nilsson who finished 7th. "I think it was pretty much the Hawaii guys and the Australian guys."

Swimmers were released in groups based on speed and swam out up to 850 meters before rounding large buoys and heading for the finish line at Duke Kahanamoku Beach at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.  But this is no swimming pool. Swimmers battle strong currents and waves.

"It was pretty close," said University of Hawaii swimmer Jason Hagi (50:09) who finished 9th behind fellow team mate Kasey Johnson (50:07). "We had a tight battle, the whole way. He just got me right at the end I think.  

"I was being the lazy one," laughed Johnson who finished 8th overall. "I drafted him {Hagi}, and then I tried to slingshot around him."

Hagi also won the overall North Shore Swim Series this Summer.
 
To qualify as a finisher at the Waikiki Roughwater Swim, you have to make it out of the water by 2 hours, 40 minutes. But for those elite swimmers, they'll start coming out in less than an hour.

Australian National Team swimmer Rhys Mainstone, 22 years old from Perth, came out on top this year with a time of 47:29. He didn't break fellow Aussie George O'Brien's record of 46:40 set last year, but he's proud of his accomplishment.

"It was really good," said Mainstone. "It was a little bit swelly coming down, but the swell was with us. My race plan turned out. I was able to catch a wave and come away with a win."

Mainstone eeked out German swimmer, Alexander Studzinsk who finished second at 47:28. Mainstone who won a silver medal in the World Championship in Shanghai in 2011 was also joined by 5 other Australian elite swimmers, including Cody Grimsey (48:06), Ridge Grimsey (48:28) and Michael Sheil (48:37) who all placed 3rd, 4th, and 5th respectively. Zavier Desharnais of Canada placed 6th with a time of 48:48.

"It is challenging, but I race 10 K's so 3.8 kilometers its not as far, but it does tire you out," said Mainstaone. "I will be tired later today, but hey thats racing," he laughed.

Top USA Junior National Swimmer, Becca Mann of Clearwater, Florida is just 14 years old. She was the 1st female out of the water (50:38) and placed tenth overall.

"Yeah, I'm happy with my swim," smiled Mann. "It was just fun and I feel great."

It's the young swimmer's first Waikiki Roughwater Swim.

"I've been wanting to do it for such a long time (four years). I'm so happy that I finally got to come and do it.
 
Mann has already been making quite a name for herself in the swimming world. The finalist in 3 olympic events at the 2012 USA Swimming Olympic Trials also won the 10K Surf & Sea event at Waimea Bay and just broke an 18 year record at the Pan Pacific Games on Oahu in the 1500 meter swim and the 400 individual medley.

"It was 4:39:76 in the 400 IM and the old record was a 4:39:82. In the mile, the old record was a 16:12:57 and I did a 16:11:98," said Mann.
     
Some swimming experts have reportedly said she's one to watch. Her competitors today, agreed.

"In the future, keep an eye for her, because if she's already winning this race, she's gonna be pretty big later on," said Mainstone. "Wow. If she's go Olympic aspirations, just watch out for Rio."

But for many of the other competitors, like 53 year old Maui resident Puamana Farden, this roughwater swim is a race against themselves.

"We're stoked for her," said Coti Haia who joined sisters Courtney and Christie to cheer on their Mom.

"Even if they're not coming in at 45 minutes," said Haia, "...they're heroes for doing all this."

To view all the race results from the Waikiki Roughwater Swim:
Go to - Pacific Sports Events http://www.pseresults.com.

More information - www.waikikiroughwaterswim.com

To check out our slideshow of all the Roughwater Swim action, click here.