Harrison has his day in Magnetic Island-Townsville swim

ANDREW ALOIA | The Townsville Bulletin, August 1st, 2011

IT will be for the best if teenager Harrison Bagley continues to strive to better his sister Alex in the water.  Yesterday, the 16-year-old Ryan Catholic College student became the second-youngest winner in the history of the Subway Magnetic Island Swim.

But the first thing that sprang to mind when he crossed Cleveland Bay and reached The Strand was the fact that he had bettered his decorated sister's achievements by completing the 8km race in 1hr 42mins. Last year, Alex, a former Australian open water representative, finished runner-up in the women's field in 1:45.43.  The relief of jogging up the beach to the finish line, four minutes ahead of second place-getter and women's winner Kylie de Rooy, was quickly replaced by a broad grin when his personal mission to beat his sister was brought up.  "Oh, I might brag when I get home," he said.  Alex, who sat out this year's event as she juggles fourth-year medical studies at James Cook University and race committee duties, was only too happy for Harrison to gloat. Having starred on the international stage in green-and-gold togs and pushed for an Olympic call-up in 2008, Alex is adamant her little brother has what it takes to emulate those feats. "For Harrison, who hasn't had a big result like this before, this will be good for his confidence," Alex said. "I hope he goes on with it, and that this acts as an incentive for him. I've been to one of the top levels and it gets really exciting, if he can get there, he will see how good it is. If he has the determination, that's all it takes."

Harrison's Gardens Swimming Club coach Michaela Pattinson - who finished runner-up in the teams event with star pupil Courtney Hayward - was convinced of that even before he hit the water at Picnic Bay yesterday.  "I knew he could win, he wasn't sure, but I knew what he had in him," Pattinson said. "He has been training the house down and when you put in effort like that it pays off."  Already Harrison, who is also an accomplished Queensland country surf lifesaving representative, has plans to swim at the state open water titles. 

But after creating a stir in his first solo swim in the Magnetic Island to Townsville feature race, he is keen to just enjoy the moment.  "I think I will get into it more this year," he said.  "I'm real proud of it (the result), I will remember it for ages."  Alex has ensured Harrison is not going to be short of motivation in defending his crown next year, declaring she would comeback to steal the mantle as best Bagley in 2012.

PICTURE: Magnetic Island to Townsville swim winner Harrison Bagley emerges from the water.