By Joyce Mark-Sabbath, Port Moresby 2015 Games News Service
PORT MORESBY, July 13 – Difficult conditions faced the swimmers in the Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games men’s and women’s open water swim at Loloata on Sunday, leading to some minor injuries and a close call at the finish line as the receding tide meant the water was more shallow than was ideal.
Thibaut Mary (NCL) won the men’s race and Charlotte Robin (NCL) led home the women to give New Caledonia the sweep, but it was the delay in the race start that caused some complications.
FINA safety officer John West said that stormy weather conditions the night before the race meant that organisers were unable to place the course buoys, making the early start time a challenge for organisers as they scrambled to set the course.
Organisers ultimately decided that the race would go ahead, but over three kilometres, rather than the planned five.
Women’s gold medallist Robin said the conditions made the race more interesting.
“It was a good race, and fun race because of the weather,” Robin said. “The conditions were hard, but I like these conditions with waves and currents, so I liked this race.”
Head of race medical services, Dr Ivan Ravu (PNG), said his team treated seven injuries, five of which were cuts to the hand, due to outgoing tide leaving swimmers in shallow waters at the finish.
“There are a lot of rocks near the shore, so when the sea started to recede, athletes with longer arms touched the ground,” he said.
“The seabed was full of stones which resulted in a lot of hands been cut and bruised.”
Ravu said that all the injuries were minor and treatable with “basic first aid” and that he thought that medical arrangemen’s at the island venue were sufficient.
But Loloata Island resort owner, Richard Knight, was not so positive.
“I would like to see bit better organised – a lot of things done now may have been done yesterday,” he said after the race.
But winners are grinners, with both Mary and Robin making the best of the situation on their way to gold.
“Here I don’t think I could have finished five kilometre, so it was an advantage to only swim three,” said Mary.
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