Stars line up for Swan River races

Athletes take to the river on the South Perth foreshore to promote the BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series 'Swim The Swan' event, which will take place in February. Left to right: Former Fremantle Dockers star Shaun McManus, WA open water swimmer Rhys Mainstone, former champion long distance swimmer Shelley Taylor-Smith, Perth Olympic swimmer Blair Evans, WA open water swimmer Simon Huitenga and former champion West Coast Eagles player Andrew Embley. Pic: Nic Ellis/WA News

Some of the nation's best footballers and swimmers literally ran on water yesterday in a race that combined the skills of their disciplines.

Recently retired Eagles player Andrew Embley and former Dockers captain Shaun McManus went up against Commonwealth Games gold medallist Blair Evans and open-water swimming champions Rhys Mainstone, Simon Huitenga and Shelley Taylor-Smith in aqua zorb balls - plastic spheres big enough for a person to fit inside - in a race across the Swan River.

The race marked the launch of the 2014 BHP Billiton aquatic super series "Swim the Swan". The super series brings international swimming, water polo and open-water swimming together from January 31 to February 2.

Evans said she would have to sit out the super series but was involved as its ambassador.

"The aquatic super series is something I am really passionate about," she said. "We don't get many swimming competitions in WA, so it is pretty important.

"I had a shoulder injury so I am out of the water for a while, but I'll be back to train for (the 2016 Olympics in) Rio."

Swimmers from China, South Africa, Brazil and Japan will compete against Australians at Challenge Stadium in the super series. Embley and McManus said they would sign up to swim in the open-water event on Sunday February 2.

Open-water swimmers Mainstone and Huitenga edged over the line first in the zorb ball race, though there was no clear winner.

The Swim the Swan event is open to everyone in 500m, 1.25km, 2.5km, 5km and 10km races.

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