Over sixty swimmers, including at least eighteen who travelled to the island for the event, took part in the Mezeron sponsored open water Manx Mile in Port St Mary as part of the Queenie Festival.
A triangular course was laid out in the bay, with the senior swimmers completing two laps, and the juniors and novices one lap. Although the seniors’ race was to be 1 mile, the course had to be slightly altered, making it nearer 1900m, with the shorter race covering 950m.
Of the forty eight finishes in the senior race, four completed the course under thirty minutes, with local swimmer Kristian Cowin taking the overall victory in 26 min 58 sec, just over a minute ahead of Guildford’s Rory Fitzgerald. There was a close race for third place between Ciara Sullivan and Carole Laporte, with the former getting the edge by six seconds in 29m 25.
Gaby Cooper, a former Island Champion and Record holder over much shorter distances in the pool, finished fifth. The next three places went to visiting swimmers, the farthest travelled was Peter Grace from San Francisco in sixth, just ahead of Mark Preston from Pennine Swimmers and Chrissie Howell from Lake District Open Water Club in seventh and eighth. Local swimmers, Shirley Coop and Kat Burge, completed the top ten.
Weather wise conditions were good, with calm water and no brilliant sunshine making sighting difficult, but with a low tide there was an abundance of seaweed, and visibility in the shallower water was non-existent after a few days of stormy weather.
There were separate categories for wetsuit and non wetsuit swimmers, with the first four swimmers home each taking the gold medal for their categories. Cowin took the men’s wetsuit title, with Grace second and Jonathan McNeill, fourteenth overall, in third. The top three non wetsuit men were all visiting swimmers, with Fitzgerald and Preston being joined by Ryan Nuttall, eleventh overall and another Pennine Swimmer, on the podium. The women’s wetsuit section was dominated by Manx swimmers, with Sullivan, Cooper and Coop completing the top three. Laporte took the women’s non wetsuit top spot, with Howell in second and Silla Parnell, 25th overall, in third place.
In two months time Howell and Parnell will in the Manx Minkies team taking part in a relay swim of the English Channel in aid or Aspire, the spinal injuries charity, so they were in good company with Fitzgerald and Preston, along with recent new Isle of Man resident, Andy Wilkins, who finished seventeenth, having all completed individual and/or relay swims from Dover to France.
The junior race was won by thirteen year old Imogen Skillicorn, in a time of 14m 27, just thirteen seconds ahead of Ben Kebbell. Rebecca Storrie and Grace Guthrie were third and fourth, earning them the girls’ silver and bronze medals. Ciara Danes was fifth, and the silver medal for the boys went to Brandon May, who was sixth overall.
Now the surnames of Breed, Wignall and Howitt have often been mentioned in local swimming results in recent years, but never before with the Christian names of Alistair and Melanie (Breed), Debbie (Wignall) and Lynn (Howitt) On this occasion it was the parents leading the way as they all gamely entered the novices race, and completed the event. Well Done Mums and Dad! Wignall was the winner of the ladies race, ahead of Breed and Howitt. Overall winner of the novices race was Jon Quilliam, in 24m 15, just a minute ahead of David Carriage with Breed in 3rd.
A big thank you to all Mezeron for their sponsorship and those involved in organising the event, including Mark Gorry and Jill Bunyon and all those in kayaks and boats, without whose help it would be impossible to stage such an event.