The threat of deadly crocodiles wasn’t enough to deter fearless Northern Territory swimmers, who tempted fate at a Darwin ocean race on Sunday.
Around 150 brave competitors took to the water for the 13th annual Fannie Bay Ocean Swim, two days after rangers pulled a 2.5m saltie out of the water nearby.
Another larger predator was spotted about 400m offshore at East Point last weekend.
That didn’t faze teenage defending champion Ryan Blenkinship, who finished the 2.1km course in 22 minutes and 25 seconds, taking the title for the second year in a row.
“It didn’t feel as bad as last year because I’ve gotten bigger and stronger,” he said at the finish line.
The 16-year-old said he felt safe with 30 life guard volunteers on surf skis, boards and boats patrolling the sea.
Entrants as young as 13 can compete, and Ryan plans to race for a fifth time next year, saying paddling out into croc-infested waters only added to the thrill of the competition.
Darwin Surf Life Saving Club president Ray Hall was confident the large-scale firework activity for Territory Day the night before had scared any reptiles away.
“Lots of noise, lights and boats on the water has a big impact,” he told AAP.
Lifeguards said they saw plenty of dugongs, turtles and used crackers in the water, but no lurking crocs.
Mr Hall said the risks were worth it for the “bragging rights”.
At the start line, three-time competitor Charles Douglas said he wasn’t nervous either.
“I’ll swim as fast as I can anyway – the thought of a croc chasing me isn’t going to add much to my speed,” he said.