Meagen Nay after her victory at the Byron Winter Whales.
Meagen Nay after her victory at the Byron Winter Whales. The Northern Star

Nay runs to win swim

IT'S not often that the Gold Coast's Meagen Nay has had a beach sprint to finish a swimming race.

But yesterday Nay had to out-run her rival Amy Thompson to claim the 20th Byron Bay Winter Whales Ocean Classic open women's division as the duo hit the beach together.

Nay showed that she was the better runner after the gruelling 2.2km swim from Wategos to Main Beach with a winning time of 23 minutes 53 seconds.

The 18-year-old used the open water swim as preparation for the Beijing Olympic Games.

Nay will represent Australia in the 200m backstroke.

"It was just a bit of fitness work for the Games in August," Nay said.

"I'm normally doing pool swimming so it's good to break it up."

The perfect conditions at the Bay gave pool swimmers the advantage with little swell to speak of.

However, Nay also wished the race was conducted in her favourite stroke.

"It'd be great if it was all backstroke," she chuckled.

The Beijing-bound athlete was happy with her swim after she attended her brother's wedding the night before.

Nay also won the women's splash for cash.

Brisbane swimmer Trent Grimsey celebrated his 20th birthday in style when he claimed the open men's race in a slick time of 21 minutes 53 seconds.

The men's division lacked the high profile competitors it has had in the past with the cream of Australian long distance swimmers - including past winners Grant Hackett and Ky Hurst - competing at the world championships in Spain.

Grimsey - an open water specialist - made the tactical decision to swim wide of the main field to avoid the thrusting arms and legs of competitors.

"It's my first time here," he said.

"It was hard to tell where I was coming because there were a few swimmers out there.

"I knew I was either heaps in front or way behind."

David Brown finished second almost a minute behind, with Cameron Smith third.

Grimsey also claimed the men's splash for cash.

Almost 1500 swimmers contested the event, including 170 competitors in the inaugural Mini-Classic 800m swim from Clarks to Main Beach.

"It was some of the best conditions we've had," organiser Chris Lowry said.

"It was a magic day, with turtles and fish about and it was highly successful."

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