Veteran swim­mer eyes Hip­kins Cup

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - SPORT - MIKEWATSON

Open ocean swim­mer Peter Col­bert’s knowl­edge of the tidal flows off Marl­bor­ough’s north­ern coast­line should stand him in good stead for this week­end’s Hip­kins Cup.

The ocean swim event will cel­e­brate its 50th year on Sun­day.

The 2.3-kilo­me­tre event from Rarangi Beach to Whites Bay, 17km north of Blen­heim, has been a reg­u­lar date in the veteran swim­mer’s di­ary since the early 1990s.

He has won the race twice and fin­ished a num­ber of times in the mi­nor plac­ings for his age group.

Peter is not giv­ing any­thing away on his chances of suc­cess on Sun­day, ex­cept to say the sea and weather con­di­tions will be, as al­ways, the big­gest ob­sta­cle.

With strong north­west­erly winds fore­cast, and a high tide at the start, he ex­pects plenty of chop on the water to sort out the lead­ing bunch.

The fact the for­mer Air Force ser­vice­man is com­pet­ing is a feat in it­self.

Four years ago Peter ex­pe­ri­enced heart­burn-like sen­sa­tions while cy­cling which later cul­mi­nated in him hav­ing a quadru­ple by­pass.

‘‘I was told two of my ar­ter­ies were 98 per cent gone,’’ he says.

Three months later he was back in the water com­pet­ing in a 2km event.

The first stages of open water swim­ming races nor­mally in­volve a bit of jostling as swim­mers find their line and stroke, Peter says.

The na­tion­ally ranked age group swim­mer plans to keep out of the rough stuff and find his own route to the fin­ish.

‘‘It’s a beach start which I like, and de­pend­ing on the con­di­tions I might head out and then try and catch the cur­rent to bring me into Whites Bay.’’

The race is one of his favourite events, he says.

‘‘It is the best sea swim event in the coun­try be­cause it is held in a beau­ti­ful set­ting with spec­tac­u­lar scenery, and it’s in our own back­yard in Marl­bor­ough.’’

Peter is not sure what time he will fin­ish in but hopes to be among the lead­ing group as they head to the fin­ish line.

All ages can en­ter, with un­der­16s need­ing per­mis­sion from a par­ent or guardian to sign up.

En­try is $10 on the day, with reg­is­tra­tion from 11am.

The swim starts at noon, fol­low­ing a safety brief­ing at the Rarangi Fire Sta­tion from 11.50am.

PHOTO: DEREK FLYNN/FAIR­FAX NZ

Hip­kins Cup swim­mer and past win­ner Peter Col­bert at Rarangi Beach.

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