DC Park will host the exciting single-day open water swimming races on Saturday, with men and women seeking to be the fastest across a 5km distance in the open ocean to earn medals.
Athletes from eight countries (Fiji, Guam, New Caledonia, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti and Vanuatu) will contest the men’s and women’s races.
Swimmers will dive in at 10am, and medallists will likely take just over an hour to complete the course. The men will enter the water first, followed by the women five minutes later.
The races will feature veteran and rising talents for both women and men as they compete over the 5km distance.
New Caledonia has traditionally dominated the event and will be aiming for more medals in Solomon Islands.
In the women’s race last time out at the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games, New Caledonia veteran Charlotte Robin won gold, her teammate Maiana Flament claimed silver, and Fiji’s Matelita Buadromo got bronze.
However, neither Robin nor Buadromo are competing at Sol2023, leaving Flament as one of the favourites and opening up podium spots for new medallists to be crowned.
In the men’s race at Samoa 2019, Tahiti’s Rahiti de Vos won gold, Hugo Savignac of New Caledonia claimed silver, and his teammate Benoit Riviere collected bronze.
However, none of these athletes are competing at Sol2023, leaving the podium wide open. Northern Mariana Islands have entered a particularly large number of athletes (nine) in the men’s race.
Open water swimming will conclude with a 4 x 1.25km mixed relay, which will be contested by Solomon Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, Palau, Tahiti and Northern Mariana Islands at 1pm.
Sol2023 organisers will be hoping for favourable water conditions to ensure a successful event.
The public are encouraged to head down to DC Park to cheer on these intrepid swimmers. Entry is free.
By Elron Dokese, Pacific Games News Service