Lars Bottelier crosses the finish line first at Thompson Bay.Courtesy: Perthnow

Dutchman Lars Bottelier has taken line honours in the 2020 South32 Rottnest Channel Swim, winning the gruelling open-water race in a time of 4 hours, 18 minutes and 26 seconds.

The current male solo race record of 3:59:28 set in 2018 by Solomon Wright.

Will Rollo finished second in 4:22:16 with 17-year-old Kyle Lee finishing third in 4:25:30.

Zoe Whitfield, from NSW, was the first female solo swimmer across the line, in a time of 4:48:09 only seconds ahead of second-placed woman Josie Page (4:48:42).

Josie finished in third place in 2018 and 2019.

It was a very tight race for finish, with Whitfield, Page, 2016 and 2019 winner Jaime Bowler, and 2017 winner Rebekah Weller neck-and-neck for the full 19.7km.

The current female solo race record is 4:21:55, set in 2018 by Heidi Gan.

It was a wet and gloomy start for the annual race but that did not dampen the spirits of up to 2400 participants.

Swimmers hit the water just before 6am with a sea of family and friends cheering them on from the shore on as they embark on a 19.7km swim from Cottesloe to Rotto.

Lead swimmers passed the 12km mark at about 8.30am, with Bottelier, 17-year-oldo Kyle Lee and first-time soloist William Rollo all level — and 100m ahead of current record holder Solomon Wright.

Jaime Bowler, who won the event in 2016 and 2019, was the lead female at the half-way point, ahead of Bek Weller and Josie Page.

Supported by hundreds of paddlers, skippers and crew, participants have the option of traversing the distance in teams of four, duos or as solo swimmers.

Depending on conditions, the average solo swim will take on average six to eght hours to complete.

Organisers say this morning’s conditions were ideal for swimmers and skippers with light westerly winds.

Spokeswoman Tess Fisher said the event was currently smooth sailing with no medical incidents.

“The only concern at this stage would be hyperthermia, so our team swimmers have to make sure they get dry and keep warm once they hop on the boat,” she said.

“It’s been a really tight race with the top three swimmers neck and neck.”

Ms Fisher said the atmosphere on Thompson Bay had a party vibe with supporters eagerly awaiting their arrival.

It was much different to the start in Cottesloe where there was plenty of nervous energy and a quiet sense of anticipation.

Source: https://www.perthnow.com.au/sport/swimming/swimmers-hit-the-water-for-rottnest-channel-swim-ng-b881469653z