OLYMPIC swimming hopeful Michael Sheil showed his class in the 13th annual Hervey Bay Surf Lifesaving Club Pier to Pub ocean swim in Hervey Bay yesterday.
The 23-year-old Brisbane resident left his rivals in his wake as he powered his way to winning the 3.4km race from Urangan Pier to the Torquay jetty.
Sheil completed the race in a time of 35 minutes and 22 seconds, some three-and-a-half minutes ahead of the chasing pack.
It was the first time Sheil had taken the plunge in the event and he said he had thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“I've been trying to have a go in it for a couple of years now but commitments haven't allowed it,” said Sheil, who won the King of the Coast Ocean Swim at Caloundra last year.
“This year I made sure I had time and I'm glad I did.
“It was a great race in a beautiful setting – conditions were perfect as well which always helps.
“We even had the current behind us.”
But will Sheil, who also won the 18km Fiji Ocean Swim last year, be back to defend his title 12 months down the road?
“I'd love to – I've just got to see how my schedule is with getting to the Olympics,” he said.
Despite having the current behind him, Sheil wasn't able to break the record for the event which was set by three-time race winner Maryborough's Bradley Byrne in 2008.
The former state and national swimming champion completed the race in a time of 33 minutes and 29 seconds.
Maryborough teacher and champion triathlete Cassie Percival emerged victorious from the water in the open women's race.
She finished in a time of 41 minutes and two seconds.
There were 126 competitors who took the plunge on the day which also included a 1.6km Splash 4 Cash trek.