ISAAC Jones and Ebony Ebenwaldner conquered the Lady Bay swell to claim victory in the 1.4-kilometre Tony Ryan Memorial Bay Swim yesterday.
The two swimmers got their Shipwreck Coast Swim Series campaigns off to an impressive start with convincing wins in their respective categories.
Jones, of Warrnambool, clocked 16 minutes, 22 seconds to win the open male section. He was more than a minute clear of runner-up Ben Raymond, 17.43.
Ebenwaldner, of Melbourne, won the open female section in 19.27. Teenager Meg Flaherty was runner-up in 22.27, an effort which earned her the junior honours.
The Tony Ryan Memorial Bay Swim was the opening leg of the popular three-leg series and attracted 196 competitors from teenagers through to sexagenarians.
The series continues with the Port Fairy Moyneyana Ocean Swim on January 4. Swimmers then head to Port Campbell on January 18 for the Twelve Apostles Plunge.
Jones, a silver medallist at the World Junior Swimming Championships in August, said the win was his fifth in the event.
“I thought it wasn’t too bad, just a bit of swell.
‘’Sixteen minutes is about average but it’s always different — different days, different weather,” he said.
The swim series gives the young superfish a chance to trade the pool for the ocean a handful of times each year — but bigger goals are on the radar.
He is building up to contest the 2014 Australian swimming championships in Brisbane in April, which serve as a Commonwealth Games qualifier.
The Australian age championships are in Sydney a fortnight later, meaning the Warrnambool Swimming Club will have a hectic schedule in the coming months.
Ebenwaldner celebrated her second win, having triumphed two years ago when she claimed the overall series victory.
She will also swim in the Port Fairy event, making the most of a holiday in Warrnambool, before contesting the Pier to Pub at Lorne on January 11.
“Unfortunately I can’t come on the 18th because I’m part of a team for the Bloody Big Swim, 11.2 kilometres from Frankston to Mornington,” she said.
Ebenwaldner said she picked up time on those ahead of her on the “back straight” as swimmers reached deep water.
“I swam quite well from buoy to buoy,” she said. “I saw a lot of people come in and out and I was swimming straight.”
But while Jones and Ebenwaldner claimed the top honours, they weren’t the only competitors celebrating their achievements yesterday.
Four swimmers — John Hunt, Andrew Bennett, Maggie Hill and Neil O’Donnell — completed their 21st swim as part of the series.
The achievement meant they joined 31 other swimmers as members of the Flotsam and Jetsam Club.
Mark Pech, Colin Whiting and Ian McPhail were also among the field and remain the only entrants who have completed all 30 swims since 2005.