ACG Tauranga swimming champion Liam Jury has forged a formidable reputation in the pool. Now he’s making his mark in the ocean after gaining bronze in his first-ever open water swim competition.
Swimming 2.8km in an impressive 48 minutes, Liam took out third place in the 2022 Aquaknights Zonal Secondary School Open Water Swimming Championships held recently at Mount Maunganui. In addition, he earned sixth place in the NZ Secondary Schools Male 14 to 15 category and overall came fifty-ninth from a field of 352 competitors.
“I decided to enter to do something a little different – it is still swimming but in a different environment,” says the talented 14-year-old.
The race took competitors out and around Rabbit and Leisure Islands, providing plenty of obstacles for the seasoned pool swimmer.
“I’ve never been involved with Surf Life Saving or spent a lot of time in the sea and surf. So it was challenging to work my way out through the surf at the start, deal with the constant wave action and sight where to swim. The pacing was also challenging as I wasn’t quite sure how far through the race I was. It’s a more restrictive feeling swimming in a wetsuit, and your body moves differently through the water, but over time you adjust to that.”
However, the new experience offered numerous upsides. Not only did stepping out of his comfort zone give Liam the chance to practice courage (one of ACG Tauranga’s school values), but it enabled him to test a different set of water skills too.
“I liked the change of environment; it was good to be outside in the fresh air. The weather was warm and fine on the day, which helped, and it was cool to see people of all sorts of abilities and ages giving the event a go.”
Now that he’s broken the ice on open water swims, Liam has set his sights on his next ocean conquest.
“Open water swimming is a new challenge for me, and I would like to compete in more events. There is a 3.5km open water swim at Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake) in Rotorua, which would be good to have a go at. I have coxed rowing crews at several regattas held on Lake Tikitapu, so it would be cool to also say I have swum the ‘Legend of the Lake’ there too.”