KONA AQUATICS SWIMMERS COMPETITIVE AT 2017 HAPUNA
By Rick Winters - West Hawaii Today
KOHALA COAST — Contrary to its name, the Hapuna Rough Water Swim took place under smooth conditions as a group of elite, young swimmers battled to the finish in the 39th annual event along the Kohala coast on Sunday.
Taking place on the north side of the beach, Academy Swim Club’s Brock Imonen claimed first place overall with a time of 23 minutes and 36.29 seconds. He was followed by Weylin Foo (23:38.14) and Bodhi Whitmore (23:40.13) rounded out the top three.
In the female division, Taylor Doherty and Maile Lawson — teammates at Hawaii Preparatory Academy but rivals on the club swimming scene with Doherty competing for Academy and Lawson competing for Kona Aquatics — produced a photo finish at the line. Doherty just edged Lawson by four-tenths of a second.
Doherty finished fourth overall with a time of 23:40.38. Lawson was fifth at 23:40.79 and Noelani Vargas rounded out the top three with a 14th place overall time of 24:37.62.
The top 10 swimmers all stayed in a tight lead pack with only 19 seconds separating the first place person from the 10th.
“I knew Doherty was right behind me and so was Bodhi, who passed me right before the finish last time,” Imonen said. “I had to make sure I cut the final buoy close so he could not pass me this time and then it was a sprint to the finish.”
For Doherty, she and Lawson knew it was down to them as they passed that final buoy.
“I swim with Maile a lot and I know her swim suit and goggles well,” Doherty said. “As soon as I made that last turn on my left side, we saw each other and kind of smiled. I knew it was going to be her or I and now we had to kick it into gear.”
Both Lawson and Doherty touched the sand at about the same time, but Doherty managed to out-sprint her competitor in the short run up the beach, edging her shoulder in front of Lawson for the win.
“She (Doherty) is an awesome competitor and is a good swimmer to pace from behind,” Lawson said. “This was a great race with an awesome finish and it was really fun.”
The Hapuna Rough Water swim was the second leg of the Big Island’s Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming.
The first leg of the competition, the Cinco de Mayo Swim, took place at Anaehoomalu Bay in Waikoloa. Aapo Eerola won the event, but the HPA boarder is back at home in Sweden and did not compete at Hapuna.
Whitmore placed second at the Cinco de Mayo Splash and his overall time of 47:07.13 is good enough to take over first place for the Triple Crown after two races. Foo finished third at Cinco de Mayo and his overall time of 47:09.14 puts him in second place. Imonen is third with a time of 47:26.29, making the boys competition a hotly contested affair entering the Kings’ Swim at Kailua Bay on July 4.
In the female division, Karlyn Pipes placed first at Anaehoomalu but was fourth in the division at Hapuna with a time of 24:40.27. Her overall time of 48.25.27 drops her to second behind Lawson, who has a two-race time of 47.28.79 after also placing second at Anaehoomalu. Third place in the female division is tightly contested between Mina Poppas, Noelani Vargas and Kristen Bennett.