IT was announced this week that the South African open water swimming nationals will relocate from the proposed venue of North End Lake to Marina Martinique in Jeffreys Bay. The Championships, which are set to attract around 300 top swimmers from around the country, were earmarked to be the first swimming event in the rehabilitated lake but at the weekend the local organisers had to recommend the venue change to Swimming South Africa as water quality levels hadn’t yet met with international swimming standards.The decision, while the correct one, is a huge disappointment and a massive setback for plans to secure a 3-year bid for the hosting of the World Marathon swimming championships in Port Elizabeth. Whilst the ongoing rehabilitation of the lake is fast becoming an international success story, recent delays in dosage over the Christmas period could have had a very negative impact on recent test results which forced the LOC to make the decision. Tipped by some to soon become one of the best and most versatile water sport venues in the country, the lake will offer ideal training and competition opportunities for most water sport codes, ensuring a massive economic impact and return on investment for the city whilst further improving the stadium precinct. Fortunately within the Eastern Cape there is the pristine Marina Martinique venue in Jeffreys Bay which is probably one of the best open water swimming venues in the country at the moment and so far this season has hosted all of the open water swimming events including this past weekend’s Nelson Mandela Bay Aquatics (NMBA) Championships. In an exciting weekend of open water swimming, Pearson High School head boy Ian Venter, pulled off a win in both the NMBA 5km and 3km Championship races. The Aquabear swimmer won the Provincial 5km open water swim on Saturday afternoon in blustery conditions in 1hr and 49 seconds just under 2 minutes ahead of Nicolas Adam with Slater Black finishing third. St Francis Bay Liquid Lines swimmer Amica de Jager, from Woodridge High School, won the ladies NMBA title in 1hr 2min and 55 seconds ahead of Tayla Botha and Jessica Canter. Three visitors from the Western Cape also swam the 5km swim with Nicolaos Manoussakis finishing in a very fast 58 minutes and 6 seconds and SA Marathon Champion Michelle Weber finishing in 1hr 14 minutes and 56 seconds. Local well-known personality Stanford Slabbert won the disabled category in 1 hour 34 minutes and 48 seconds.Both visitors dominated Sunday’s 10km marathon swim with Manoussakis finishing in 2 hours and 2 seconds and Weber in 2hrs 11 minutes. Liquid Lines owner, Haydn Holmes, won the NMBA 10km Championship Men’s title in 2hrs 23 minutes ahead of Kevin Richards (2hrs 25min 30sec), while De Jager won the ladies’ title in 2hrs 15min and 57 seconds to become Nelson Mandela Bay Aquatics’ only qualifier for the 10km swim in the upcoming SA Championships. Nina Petra Bodisch claimed the ladies’ silver medal for the marathon swim in a time of 3 hours 36 minutes and 15 seconds.In the much anticipated and competitive Provincial 3km open water swim, Venter won in a time of 36 minutes and 33 seconds ahead of Infinity swimmer Cullen Biddulph with the young Black in third place to round off a most impressive weekend. Kirsten Marriott won the ladies’ 3km championship swim in a time of 39 minutes 59 seconds ahead of Jessica Beukes and Jessica Canter. Slabbert won the disabled category in 57 minutes 53 seconds. Visiting Tygervalley swimmer Carli Antonopoulos swam the 3km swim in a time of 38 minutes and 47 seconds.Following the Championships, the Provincial team for next month’s SA Open Water Swimming Championships will be announced shortly. Full results from the weekends championships are available on the website www.ecswim.co.za.aQuelle Ocean Series returns on SundayAfter a 3-week break, the aQuellé Ocean Racing Series returns to Hobie Beach for Round 8 on Sunday morning starting at 9am. This will be the only Ocean Series race this month as two weeks later the historic SPAR River Mile will be taking place as part of the SPAR Summer Festival over the weekend of February 25-26.With just 3 rounds of the aQuellé Series remaining, Sunday offers overall contenders the opportunity to secure top points and secure their podium position for the overall Series prize giving function at News Café on Sunday, March 27. For online registration into either the aQuellé Ocean Racing Series or any of the events taking place during the SPAR Summer Festival head to www.zsports.co.za.