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The start of something extraordinary

The 2021 NZ Open Water Championships & Epic Swim

The Epic Swim was back again for its twelfth year last weekend, held alongside the 2021 New Zealand Open Water Championships. Epic Swim had another awesome turn out this year with 811 individual entries. The Open Water Championships had 224 entries, which included 40 swim clubs from across the country.

Taupo once again provided perfect conditions for the weekend, the lake was warm with a water temperature of over 20 degrees for both days, so according to FINA rules – no wetsuits were to be worn during the Open Water Championships.

Swimming New Zealand would like to thank all competitors, clubs, sponsors, technical officials and volunteers that helped support the event. After an unpredictable 2020, it was a great start to 2021 and we hope that everyone had a great weekend.


The biggest event of the competition was the NZ Open Water 10km, which was won by two Wellington swimmers. 18-year-old Joseph Stewart from Pirates Swim Team took first place in the Men’s event, gaining his first ever NZ Open Water Title, finishing in 2:07:35 seconds. 17-year-old Oxford Bayley from Nelson South Swim Club was second overall and top of his age group with a time of 2:12:23.
Ruby Heath from Capital Swim Club won the Women’s 10km event in 2:14.51 seconds. This was also Ruby’s first NZ Open Water title and only her second Open Water event, after swimming for the first time at last year’s event. 17-year-old Abbey Smale from Tasman Swim Club took second with 2:22:19, top of her age group.

Last years 10km NZ Open Water champion Ashleigh Allred is currently in Australia. Ashleigh had entered the competition in hope that the quarantine restrictions would be lifted but unfortunately wasn’t able to make it due to the current border limitations.

Winners of the NZ Open Water 7.5km were men’s, Alex Dunkley (1:35:19) from Mt Eden Swimming and women’s, Talitha McEwen (1:42.32) from Evolution Aquatics, who is just 15 years old.
It was a close one in the NZ Open Water 5km. Joseph Stewart took the win, finishing in 1:02:12 seconds. Alex Swan from Tasman Swim Club and Alex Dunkley from Mt Eden Swimming battled out for the second place, Swan swam 1:02.33 and narrowly finished 0.05 seconds before Dunkley who came third (1:02.38). This year women’s 10km champion Ruby Heath, claimed the win in the Women’s 5km also. Heath swam a time of 1:07:04 seconds.
Pukekohe Swim Club’s Zac Dell beat last year’s champion Luke Mitchell, claiming first place in the Men’s 2.5km (32.48 seconds). In the women’s event, Talitha McEwan took first place with a time of 35.29 seconds.

The NZ Open Water 4 x 1km Club Relays provided a highly competitive, exciting and fun to watch event to close off the weekend. Pukekohe Swim Club was in the lead for the first two legs but St Peter’s Swimming Club grabbed first place in the Men’s relay. Also, a Swimming Waikato Club, St Paul’s Swimming Club took first place in the Women’s Open Relay. St Paul’s (Men’s) and Pukekohe Swim Club (Women’s) won the 16 and under category.

The 2021 New Zealand Open Water Championships Top Club Trophy went to Pukekohe Swimming Club for the second year running. This year, they won by a mile with an impressive 437 club points. Second place was St Paul’s Swimming Club who gained a total of 190 points. To see the list of clubs and points, click here.


We congratulate this year’s Epic Epic champions, the fastest male and female swimmer to complete the Epic Epic, which is a 17.5km race combining the 5k, 2.5km, and 10km Epic races.

Axel Wohlfarth from Auckland won the Men’s Epic Epic trophy for the second year running with a total accumulated time of 3:51.04 seconds, which was almost 5 minutes faster than his time the previous year. Axel came first place in all three swims, the 2.5km (34:39) the 5km (1:04:17) and the 10km (2:12:07), which were all individually faster times from the previous year.

16-year-old Hayley Sharpe from Hamilton won the Women’s Epic Epic trophy with an accumulated time of 4:22:07 seconds. Hayley is the youngest female to win the Epic Epic within the last five years. She came first place in the 10km race with a time of 2:30:35 seconds and third in the 5km.

17-year-old Jordyn Williams from Hamilton was the winner of the Women’s Epic 5km race, finishing in 1:12:12 seconds and 19-year-old Madison Keightley from Palmerston North won the 2.5km.
In terms of entries, the most popular race of Epic Swim has always been the 2.5km. 2021 was the fifth year that we had over 200 swimmers competing in the individual event, which is fantastic. This year matched the record of Epic Epic entries, which was an impressive 33 people, which we hope to beat that next year!
We had 48% more entries into the Mini Epic 100m (Ages 7-10-year-olds) and had record numbers in the Minor Epic 500m distance swim which ranges from 9-19-year-olds.

Relay numbers continue to increase each year, with 34 teams taking part in the 4x1km event, making it a new record.

Team Oxford Nic Joseph And Eligh won the Epic 4x1km Relay Team for the men and Roskill 1 won it for the women. It was great to see New Zealand professional triathlete Hayden Wilde taking part in the Epic Relay with Liz Van Welie Aquatics, who won the mixed Epic relay.

We had the most impressive effort this year from one of our honourable Epic attendees, Anna Marshall from Wellington attended her 12th Epic event this year. Anna completed each individual event of the Epic Epic, the 2.5km, 5km, 10km as well as the 1km, which was just before the 10km race. Huge kudos to Anna for completing an impressive total of 18.5km over the weekend.

Below is an updated Epic Swim Honours List:
12 Completed events:
Susan Duffel, Marty Finch, Anna Marshall, Heather Osborne, Pauline Mills, Carol Prop, Andrew Stevens

11 Completed Events:
Brett Bradley