The return of the skins events to Melbourne Short Course was met with excitement, anticipation and it did not disappoint.
As the sun set over the Melbourne sky, the Women's Skins saw ten starters line up for the 100m freestyle. From the youngest competitor, 16-year-old Jade Starr (Nudgee College) to experienced Australian Dolphins, Kiah Melverton (TSS Aquatic), Laura Taylor (TSS Aquatic), and talented youngsters, Jessica Unicomb (Griffith Uni), Julia Hawkins (Nunawading), Olivia Lefoe (MLC Aquatic), Brittany Castelluzzo (Tea Tree Gully), Melbourne teammates, Kotuku Ngawati and Elyse Woods (Melbourne Vicentre), and distance specialist, Chelsea Gubecka (Yeronga Park).
A very vocal crowd watched on as the fast-paced field saw six eliminated in the first round, leaving four standing including Ngawati, Woods, Castelluzzo and Hawkins.
In round two, which commenced a mere three minutes later, Melbourne Vicentre teammates Ngawati and Woods, coached by Craig Jackson, finished one and two making it an all Victorian showdown for the final.
With an electric atmosphere, Ngawati finished the stronger of the two.
"I feel pretty good. There's a lot of energy behind the skins, but it was great to mix it up tonight and do something different with the girls," said Ngawati.
The Men's Skins field was stacked with top sprinters and middle distance swimmers alike.
Sprinting specialists including; Grayson Bell (TSS Aquatic), Will Stockwell (Rackley Swim Team), Ashton Brinkworth and Zac Incerti (UWA West Coast), Lachlan Carter (Acacia Bayside) and William Yang (Loreto Normanhurst).
The middle distance stayers and tough butterfliers including; Olympic Champion, Mack Horton (Melbourne Vicentre), David Morgan (TSS Aquatic), Matt Temple (Nunawading) and Bowen Gough (Nunawading) receiving the wildcard entry as voted by peers and fans.
After the first elimination round, the top four finishers were Temple, Horton, Yang and Morgan.
The field of four held pace over the 50m, with Horton closing fast and touching in second in with Temple in first.
The crowd were on their feet for the final dual, which saw Temple take the skins honours.
In the post-race interview Temple said "I knew I had to go hard from the start to make it through the rounds. I just went for it," said Temple.
We hope to see more skins racing back on the program as a regular fixture. The response from athletes, coaches and fans alike has been a resounding confirmation of its appeal.