Prizeman's fine form

  Photo: Matt Pegg and Stephanie Prizeman left their rivals in their wake.

YOU could be forgiven for thinking Strand Fitness Ocean Swim women's winner Stephanie Prizeman devoted all of her time to open water swimming.  But as a breaststroker who prefers the sight of the black line on the bottom of the pool to swimming freestyle in the ocean looking for buoys, you couldn't be more wrong.  In just her second open water swim, Prizeman finished second overall in yesterday's Townsville Open Water Swimming Association 5km event in a time of of 1.04.12, behind winner Matt Pegg (1.03.24).  Her first open water swim saw her claim overall victory in the same event in 2011, but the 17-year-old admitted she was shocked to be again near the front of the pack.

"I'm actually more of a pool swimmer so I was pretty surprised to once again win," she said.  "I found it a bit difficult to find the buoys and I was getting a bit frustrated so I was a bit dizzy. It's so different to pool swimming."  Prizeman said she was able to avoid most of the jostling for positions and stuck with the front group with Kylee De Rooy, Courtney Hayward and Angus Lane and try to keep up with Pegg.

The Kokoda Spirit swimmer said she was only three weeks back into training after a break after last month's Australian Swimming titles, where she was 34th in the open women's 200m breaststroke.  She has deferred university studies this year to concentrate on swimming and will be devoting herself to seven pool and six gym sessions a week ahead of September's national short course championships.  She has the ultimate goal of swimming well at next year's Commonwealth Games trials.

De Rooy and Hayward, the 2012 women's winner, were third and fourth overall while Lane was just behind as the second fastest man.

In a big boost for the open water swimming association, they had 175 swimmers compete yesterday morning, up 45 swimmers from 2012 and double the number who swam in 2011.  They had expected up to 140 before race day and had to dig into the reserves of swimming caps and make a dash to the nearby Picnic Bay Surf Lifesaving Club to print off more entry forms.

The event was a qualifier for the annual Magnetic Island to Townsville Swim next month.

LIAM BUTTERWORTH, June 17th 2013, The Townsville Bulletin

Photo: Scott Radford-Chisholm