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The Paihia Classic will open this year’s State New Zealand Ocean Swim Series.
The annual 3.3 km swim from Russell to Paihia, which is in its fourth year, is usually the second swim in the six-event series.
But the need for high tide swimming conditions has forced series organiser Quantum Events Ltd to hold the Auckland Harbour Crossing in December this year instead of November.
This means the State Paihia Classic will be held on November 10 this year, one month earlier than last year.
“It makes sense for the Paihia Classic to be the first swim in the series because the water temperature in the Bay of Islands is usually 3-4 degrees warmer than in Auckland,” says series director Scott Rice.
Mr Rice says opening the series should boost media coverage of the swim which will be filmed from a helicopter for the first time, with race highlights broadcast on Sky Sport and Prime.
“It’s not just about attracting people to the Bay of Islands. It’s also about people being able to see the beauty of the region on TV.”
Two new prizes of $20,000 for the overall male and female winners of the series should help to attract a strong field of elite swimmers.
“We’ve emailed everyone who has participated in the State Paihia Classic in the last three years, along with kicking off a large marketing campaign, and registrations are up 15-20 percent on where they were this time last year.”
The chance to win a place on a Jetstar-sponsored ‘Super Swim Squad’, where members will attend a special swim camp run by Olympic swimmers and coaches, should excite interest in the State OceanKids events this year as well.
“This is a great opportunity for young swimmers in the Far North to learn from New Zealand’s top swimmers.”
Far North District Council economic development advisor Gary Gabbitas says the council is proud to be sponsoring the State Paihia Classic for a further three years after helping to bring it to the district in 2009.
“This is a superbly-organised, world-class sporting event that draws up to 2000 people to the Bay of Islands and gives it valuable television exposure as a tourist destination.”
The 3.3 km swim from Russell to Paihia will start at 9:30am this year instead of 8am.
As usual, the swim will be followed by 1000-metre, 300-metre and 200-metre swims at Paihia to allow people of all ages and swimming abilities to take part in the event.
Go to www.oceanswim.co.nz for more details and to register for the State Paihia Classic and www.oceankids.co.nz to register for the State OceanKids.