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The swim was a great hit especially amongst the young.
This year's race had 86 participants including swimming greats like Deke Zimmerman, Neil Rodgers, John Konrads, Shane Gould and last year's winner Car

... course distance is shorter than that of last year as low tide forced organisers to map a new course. Swimmers instead of going to and around the island would only make a dash towards the island.

“We had to make some changes to the course because of the low tide. It makes swimming around the island dangerous due to the corals,” says event head honcho David Handely.

“We are very pleased with the number of participants this year. It has doubled and we are confident that the event will continue to grow each year.”

The race is split in two – the 1.5km short course and the longer 2km race. Excitement builds as it is announced that Fiji’s Henry Rokowailoa is leading the short course and is followed by two other Fijians in second and third spot.

Rokowailoa finished first with a time of 19min: 55sec while Robert Patterson came in second with 20min: 19sec. Young Patricia Naisara swam home in third place clocking 20min: 27sec.

In the long course Australian Deke Zimmerman beat Probert to first spot with a time of 22min: 42sec, Carl clocked a close 24min: 57sec. Former Olympic great Shane Gould finished third with a time of 25min: 53sec.

The fastest Fijian male Probert and fastest Fijian female Leena Pratt both won a spot each in the Ocean Swims, which will take place in Sydney early next year.

The King Tadra team of Simon Tilley, Tony McGrath, Neil Rodgers, Robert Fisher and Mark Patterson won the teams’ event.

Handely says the event was meant to generate a lot of fun but was being driven by a serious purpose. The high rate of drowning, he says, specifically amongst locals was a major concern in Fiji and more was needed to be done to educate people about the importance of swimming.

“That is why we have been going around the country holding swimming classes,” he said. “This year we even organised transportation for local swimmers from
Suva who otherwise couldn’t afford to come all the way to Beachcomber to take part in the event.”

And just like that the 2005 Fiji Swim is over. The 2006 Fiji Swim will certainly be worth a trip.

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