Fourteen-year-old Cormac Guthrie, the youngest ever swimmer to enter the nine-kilometre Cole Classic ocean swim, has won the race.
The Year 10 student from Matraville, in Sydney's east, beat defending 18-year-old champion Lochie Hinds, who won two years ago (bad weather cancelled last year's 9 km swim).
Guthrie, who attends Marcellin College in Randwick, completed the race in one hour, 33 minutes and 41 seconds - one minute and one second clear of Hinds in second and the fastest time anyone has swum the 9 km course in the two times it has been run in the Cole Classic's 31-year history.
The two rivals and mates were among the 31 entrants — aged between 14 and 54 years old — brave enough to tackle the 9 km Dee Why to Manly swim, which kicked off on Sunday morning in conditions organisers described as "near perfect".
About 3600 others participated in the Cole Classic 1 km and 2 km ocean swims between Shelly and Dee Why beaches, including Bruce McArthur, 75, one of the oldest to enter the 2 km race. The youngest entrant in the day's numerous races was nine-year-old Stella Clarkson, who participated in the 1 km race.
Kim Hasko, an amputee, also participated, swimming 35 minutes and 41 seconds in the 2 km course without full use of her arms and one leg – all to raise money for kid's education in Africa.
Guthrie, who has aimed to compete in an ocean swimming race every weekend this summer, said he tried not to focus on other swimmers during Sunday's race.
"I just tried the best I could really," Guthrie said. "I wasn't worried about Lochie [Hinds]. I was just keen to do my best, not any one else's best."
Hinds, who beat his Cole Classic personal record from two years ago by 16 minutes and 45 seconds, said he was neck and neck with Guthrie for most of the race, but couldn't catch up towards the last 500 metres.
"I could see him [and] I was just going stroke by stroke," Hinds said.
"I think Cormac was just slowly getting further and further in front. There was nothing I could really do about it.
"I was just enjoying the swim; it's an amazing swim. Nine kilometres is not an easy swim to do."
At 16-years-old, Hinds swam the English Channel, becoming the youngest Australian male to complete one of the world's most prestigious open-water swims, which stretches 33.7 kms.
The reason behind Hinds participating in ocean races was, he said, to keep his mind clear.
"I swim because it's a bit of clarity for my mind," he said. "I swam through the whole HSC and I tried to stop and cut down my sessions and it just didn't seem to work for me. My head was everywhere.
"It also keeps me fit, healthy and keeps me off the streets. It means I always have something to do."
Stephanie Hinds, Lochie's mother, said the rivalry between her son and winner Guthrie was friendly.
"[Guthrie] has been nipping at Lochie's heels for a couple of years now and has really looked up to Lochie, so it's a nice win. [Guthrie will] be the next up and coming."
Her younger son, ten-year-old Elliot, would be following in Lochie's footsteps, she said, and had already begun participating in ocean swims. Both sons started when they were nine years old.
"I don't recommend nine for everyone," she said.
Jean Hay, Manly's Mayor, said the event, along with the Sun Run on Saturday, helped advocate one of the council's core missions - a healthy lifestyle. It was also a boon for local business, she said.
"Yesterday morning when I was down presenting the trophies for the Sun Run every coffee shop and cafe in Manly was full and that was at 8am in the morning," she said.
The Cole Classic is managed by Fairfax Events and has been running for the 31 years. This year's event raised in excess of $150,000 for more than 800 charities including the Manly and Dee Why Life Saving Clubs.
The race results can be viewed on the Cole Classic website.
Correction: The spelling of Lochie Hinds' name has been corrected.