IRONMAN Ky Hurst might have been one of the drawcards for the annual Copeton Freshwater Swim but it was another local that turned heads.
New England MP Barnaby Joyce donned the swimmers – but thankfully not the Speedos like Tony Abbott – to join the thrones rushing into the water on Saturday.
There were close to 150 competitors for the freshwater swim over the three race legs of 600m, 2km and 5km.
“It’s an increase of 40 per cent on last year,” organiser Janelle McCosker said.
All eyes were on the water but it was outside the race that Ky Hurst earned even more fans.
“He was fantastic on the day and did a talk to all the competitors on open water swimming and gave them tips,” Ms McCosker said.
“He swam and encouraged the kids along the way, you know ‘come on Noah, keep going’.
“The kids loved it.”
Armidale’s Jay Kennedy took out the 2km event, while Tamworth’s Ellie Camilleri took out the girls’ title.
It was the first time the 5km swim had been held, with Ballina’s Julian Aenishaenslin reigning supreme in the mens, and Madelaine Nilon from Caniaba in the girls.
The same pair also took line honours in the 600m swim.
Sources say Mr Joyce finished in the middle of the pack in a time of about 47 minutes – all but a little short of breath.