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After more than 30 minutes of swimming Flynn Sinclair, of Invercargill, beat Wanaka multisport athlete Braden Currie by just a few seconds in the Ruby Swim pro elite race, a 2.5km swim from Waterfall Creek around Ruby Island and back.
Once Sinclair caught Currie he never let him out of his sights.
"At the start it was pretty much a sprint for 600m until we got to the island. That’s when I got to Braden’s feet and followed him around the island.
His attempts to overtake Currie were unsuccessful until the final 300m, when Sinclair saw an opening.
"About 300m to go I just put my head down and went and it was down to whoever had the right line would win."
"And I got it."
Sinclair finished the race in 30min 49sec and Currie followed just 7sec behind. Janus Staufenberg, from Wanaka, was third.
Natasha Flude, also of Wanaka, was the fastest female and fourth-fastest overall, in a time of 34min 17sec.
About 300 swimmers took part in the event which had five races, including the Big Ruby which laps the island twice and is 3.5km long.
Race co-director Eddie Spearing said the diversity of the swimmers made the event.
"It’s great to have the fast guys out there going for it but it’s also great to have swimmers of all ages and capabilities out there, giving it a go."
Despite unseasonably cold weather last week and snow falling on the surrounding mountains, the water was a relatively warm 16.5degC.
"It’s warmer than it was last year when we had it, which is quite surprising, given the weather we had last week."
Next year’s event would be even better, he said.
"We’ve got a really good thing going and it’s only going to get better."