Sea swims have been held in Nelson over the summer on Thursday nights for 32 years, beginning in 1987. For the first 20 years, the swims were organised by Peter Owen of the Nelson company Eyebright, and were known as the Eyebright swims. That historical link remains, with the annual Eyebright Mile, actually a swim of 2km.
In 2007, organisation moved to a small group, working under the auspices of the Nelson Triathlon and Multisport Club. Port Nelson became the naming rights sponsor for the Thursday series, which this season starts on November 7, 2019, with the final competition swim on March 5, 2020. Prizegiving , March 1.
The Port Nelson Summer Sea Swims are held each Thursday night at 6.15pm from the Nelson Yacht Club ramp on Wakefield Quay in Nelson. Swimmers must register by 6pm. Season registration costs $60 for the full season of Thursday swims and includes a series swim cap. Discounts are available for club members (20 percent) and school students (50 percent). Extra series caps are available for $5. Casual swims cost $10 per night and swimmers must purchase a cap ($5) on the first night. Swimmers are asked to register online in advance of their first swim. Please check in at the ramp by 6pm.
On each night there will be a short and a long course. The short swim will generally be 300m-800m, while the long swim will be 1000m-1500m. Exact distances will vary depending on conditions. Where possible, the short course swim will extend to longer distances in the new year.
Starts will be in waves, with the short swim starting first (orange caps). The long course will start after 15 minutes, with strong swimmers starting first (white caps), confident swimmers in wave two (green caps) and recreational swimmers in wave three (red caps). Less confident swimmers are asked to start at the rear of wave two or three. Kayakers will endeavour to keep a closer watch on these swimmers, who will also be in view of a shore official at all times. Choose these options if you enjoy the company and security of the series environment, but are not concerned about competition or times (times will be taken however as this is a check that all swimmers are accounted for).
Times will be adjusted to reflect the wave start, so you’ll receive your exact swim time. However, it’s important that you verify your wave start on registration and have the correct coloured cap.
How the series works
The top female and male swimmer for the year will be determined by awarding points to the first ten male and female swimmers (regardless of age) in the long swim each night.
The top non-wetsuit competitors will also be awarded points to determine the best non-wetsuit swimmers in male and female divisions. You will be asked to choose wetsuit or non-wetsuit when you enter. Buoyancy shorts, flotation shorts or core shorts may not be worn in the non-wetsuit division. You must notify officials if you change between wetsuit and non-wetsuit during the season
As well, to determine the best swimmers in each age group, season points will accumulate in the following categories:
Short swim male under-16
Short swim female under-16
Short swim male 16+
Short swim female 16+
Long swim males under-16, 16-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70+
Long swim females under-16, 16-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60+
As even the keenest swimmers can’t make every swim, season points will be taken on a competitor’s best swims taken over 66% of the season’s swims (if there are 18 or more swims, this will be the best 12 – if fewer than 18 swims are held, it will be over the best 11, etc). The age groups are decided on the swimmer’s age at March 31, 2018. For example, if you turn 30 on March 15, you’ll swim in the 30-39 age group all season.
Things you should know and remember
Please register online. If you plan to do just a few races, choose the Pay at Event option and pay $10 when you check in each night ($15 on the first night to include a cap). By registering online, we have your emergency contact information, check-in is quicker and you’ll be on our mailing list for notifications in the future. If you wish to add other race options (such as Clements Endurance swims) later you’ll need to complete a new online registration.
Swimmers will be allocated a race number, which will be written on the back of their hand each night. Swimmers retain the same number for the entire season.
Each night’s course will be displayed on a white board at the top of the ramp. It’s your responsibility to know the course, whether you’re swimming the short or the long swim.
The finish zone will be marked by two cones on the ramp at the water line. The finish line is in knee-deep water in this zone, ie, the last place you can swim to – we recommend swimming as long as you can. Time will be taken when swimmers cross this line. Do not attempt to stand up to get a better place, this can be dangerous as conditions are often slippery It’s important to know the finish procedure – to see how this works, click here
Proceed between the cones in the order you finished. Your numbers will be taken then. If you need assistance, raise your hand and call out.
If you do not finish the race, be sure to notify the timekeepers that you have pulled out, otherwise we have no way of knowing that you’re not still in the water.
Results will be posted on this website as soon as possible after each race.