Wetsuit double mile winners Daniel Jones and Hannah Haswell proved to be in unstoppable form as they powered to victory in the men’s and ladies’ mile at the 91st SPAR River Mile festival at Cannonville near Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
Showing no aftereffects in the wake of Saturday’s effort, Jones took an early lead to claim his first victory in the men’s feature race, which saw 400 swimmers take to the Sundays River.
The Victoria Park High School learner beat out two-time winner Byron Lockett, who finished second after a close tussle with third-placed Nicolas Adam.
Jones, who competes for Bay Eagles Swim Team (Best), said the fresh southwesterly wind had created choppy conditions at the outset, but that these had calmed and flattened out after the bend.
“I broke away from the start and then I just carried on at my pace and that kept me in the lead.”
In the end, the 17-year-old took a comfortable 15-metre win over the experienced Lockett, 23, with 16-year-old Adam third.
His victory puts the seal on a successful early season for Jones, who has also dominated the local Ocean Racing Series.
In the closely contested women’s race, 15-year-old Haswell of PE Amateur Swimming Club fended off challenges from a small lead bunch to take the win ahead of Amica de Jager and Jessica Canter, also 15.
The Pearson High School grade nine pupil, who finished third in last year’s event, said it had been exciting knowing that all the major contenders in the 300-strong field were back for another shot at the title.
“It was quite choppy out there but I got a decent lead in the beginning.”
The racing was hard from the start, with the first casualty being defending champion Kaley Gouws who was forced to drop out within the first 250 metres due to illness.
Haswell said the previous day’s double mile had also taken its toll on her and she had tired towards the end, with the strong chase group hauling her in over the latter half of the race.
“I had to hang in to the finish and just stay in there because I saw Jess and Amica catching up to me.”
She showed her big match temperament, porpoising in the shallows to emerge first out of the water and grab her second title in as many days.
“To get your mindset right is all it takes.”
In the disabled mile on Saturday, young Garth Willmore took the victory over veteran swimmer Stanford Slabbert, with D’Artagnan Pereira third.
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SPAR Ladies’ Mile
1. Hannah Haswell
2. Amica de Jager
3. Jessica Canter
4. Kirsten Marriott
5. Brigitte Muller
6. Jessica Beukes
7. Rebecca Newman
8. Erin Harty
9. Nepo Ntsono
10. Amy Mardon
SPAR Men’s Mile
1. Daniel Jones
2. Byron Lockett
3. Nicolas Adam
4. Dylan Smith
5. Joshua Bellairs
6. Jason Jones
7. Credence Pattinson
8. Greg Kotze
9. Ian Venter
10. Seth de Swardt