Sydney's Mark Saliba has confirmed his rating as Australia's premier male open water swimmer with his record breaking victory in the Rottnest Island Swim in Perth on Saturday.
Saliba, named the Telstra Australian Open Water Swimmer-of-the-Year in Sydney last month, broke the previous record, held by 1997 Pan Pac 25km champion, Grant Robinson, by eight minutes.
It took the 21-year-old four hours and 15 seconds to cover the 20 kilometre course and his reward. A night on the famous tourist resort and a leisurely boat ride back to the next day.
The victory followed Saliba's win in the NSW Open Water 10km championships at Manly Dam the previous weekend and his win in the NSW 5km title.
Australia's open water stocks have be buoyed by Saliba's recent performances and the wins by Gold Coast schoolboy Dylan Rackley and Sydney's Brooke Townsend in the Oceania 5km Championship in tough conditions in Christchurch earlier in the month.
Olympic silver medallist and Australia's "swimming mum" Hayley Lewis has also continued her outstanding open water form with a win in the Queensland 5km Championship on the Gold Coast in early February and she has her sights set on the FINA World Championships in November in Hawaii.
There is a major push from the FINA Open Water Committee for the inclusion of a 10km event in the next Olympics in Athens in 2004.