Good per­for­mances at Garmin Open Wa­ter com­pe­ti­tions de­spite strong cur­rents and swells

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

The seem­ingly good weather con­di­tions be­lied the strong cur­rents, par­tic­u­larly in the North Comino Chan­nel and swells that 132 swim­mers, un­der­tak­ing the Birkirkara St. Joseph Garmin Malta – Gozo – Malta and Go­zoMalta Open Wa­ter Swim Race, had to con­tend with.

Malta-Gozo-Malta The 11km race saw 14 swim­mers start­ing at the crack of dawn from Marfa Beach, where they pro­ceeded to­wards Comino onto Gozo be­fore head­ing back through the North Comino Chan­nel. The only sur­prises in the fi­nal results where the mas­sive im­prove­ments reg­is­tered by win­ners of the Race, An­drew Sul­tana and Sarah Demi­coli.

Sul­tana, won the 2017 edi­tion in a time of 2:41:09. This was the Open Wa­ter Swim­ming Na­tional Team ath­lete sec­ond foray in this dis­tance.He said: “This is the sec­ond time I com­peted in this dis­tance. The north westerly force 3-4 wind did not seem too daunt­ing, it was a tough race es­pe­cially at the be­gin­ning when we were head­ing to­wards Gozo. Even­tu­ally the sea con­di­tions im­proved and the re­turn to Marfa was at a steady con­sis­tent pace. I am def­i­nitely pleased with my re­sult, not only be­cause of the win but also due to the mas­sive im­prove­ment of eigh­teen min­utes from the time reg­is­tered last year”.

While there was lit­tle doubt that Sarah Demi­coli would re­tain the ti­tle she won in 2016, it is worth not­ing that the Open Wa­ter Swim­ming Na­tional Team ath­lete beat her 2016 time by 14 min­utes. Demi­coli fin­ished the race in 2:44:31.

She said: “This race was my sec­ond over such a dis­tance. Whilst the sea wasn’t as rough as last year, it felt more chal­leng­ing es­pe­cially around Comino where it was very choppy, mak­ing it hard to find a rhythm with your stroke work. Nev­er­the­less, train­ing and hard work paid off as I manged to im­prove my time – thanks goes to my coaches, the ASA and Birkirkara St. Joseph Sports Club for the or­gan­i­sa­tion. I am now look­ing for­ward to con­tinue with my train­ing so as to im­prove my times in fu­ture com­pe­ti­tions, both lo­cally and abroad.”

Gilbert Bar­tolo and Robert Vella and Lil­ian Calleja and Nathalie Gauci took sec­ond and third place re­spec­tively to com­plete the Malta-Gozo-Malta race podium.

Gozo-Malta The club in­tro­duced changes to the for­mat of the race this year, which meant that the ap­prox­i­mate dis­tance of 5.5km was ex­tended to over 6km. Stronger than usual cur­rents in the North Comino Chan­nel gave a tough start to the 118 swim­mers un­der­tak­ing the swim from Hon­doq irRum­mien to Marfa Bay.

As swim­mers reached Comino they gained some respite from the cur­rents, though a mod­er­ate to strong swell made for some chal­leng­ing swim­ming. The tough chal­lenge ath­letes faced through these con­di­tions were made ev­i­dent by the results reg­is­tered, where the ma­jor­ity of the ath­letes clocked slower times over the pre­vi­ous year.

De­spite suf­fer­ing cramps for most of the race Dy­lan Cachia, who had a very good open wa­ter sea­son, did not dis­ap­point. Cachia also had stiff com­pe­ti­tion from the young An­dre Camil­leri who has been shad­ow­ing him through­out the sea­son. Only nine sec­onds sep­a­rated the two ath­letes. The win­ner, Cachia, said: “I started off the race with a com­fort­able pace, but af­ter the first kilo­me­tre I started get­ting cramps which I had to con­tend with through­out the re­main­ing du­ra­tion of the race. Def­i­nitely not a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence but nev­er­the­less I am very sat­is­fied to have re­tained the ti­tle. Third placed was Isaac Mi­callef. With eyes firmly set on women’s race favourite Maya Schem­bri Rodgers, it was Na­tional Triathlon cham­pion Han­nah Pace who claimed the hon­ours in the end, edg­ing Schem­bri Rodgers by two min­utes. Pace has been ab­sent from this race since 2012 but said: “De­spite be­ing a longer than usual route and quite choppy in some areas, I thor­oughly en­joyed the race. This is re­ally a very spe­cial race – the wa­ters are clean and clear and we are very lucky to have such an amaz­ing race in Malta”.

Third fe­male was vet­eran Is­abelle Zarb.

Tro­phies were pre­sented to the win­ners by Joe Caru­ana Cur­ran, Pres­i­dent, Aquatic Sports As­so­ca­tion of Malta, Ray­mond Grech, Pres­i­dent, Birkirkara St. Joseph Sports Club and Henri Mat­tocks, Gen­eral Manager of the Ramla Bay Re­sort. The race was held un­der the aus­pices of the Aquatic Sports As­so­ca­tion of Malta (ASA) and sup­ported by Garmin (Malta) and the Ramla Bay Re­sort.

Birkirkara St. Joseph Sports Club thanked the Armed Forces of Malta, Trans­port Malta, the Malta Po­lice Force, Red Cross (Malta) and the vol­un­teers and mar­shals present through­out the morn­ing for their as­sis­tance through­out the race.

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