Australia’s Olympians in open water swimming from London 2012 have triumphed at the State Sand To Surf in Mount Maunganui, round five of the State New Zealand Ocean Swim Series.
Ky Hurst won the men’s race beating fellow Queenslander Josh Richardson by five seconds, with Auckland’s Phillip Ryan in third.
Hurst’s start was outstanding. He took a different line than everyone else and it set him up nicely.
“It meant I ended up having a nice little buffer, which allowed me to relax into a good rhythm through the middle stages,” said Hurst.
It was far from a one horse race though, with 19-year-old Queenslander catching Hurst at the halfway point of the 2.6km journey.
“Josh is one of the best open water swimmers in the world and has a huge future. So it was inevitable that he was going to catch me. At the end I was hoping we’d both catch a wave and body surf in, but it wasn’t to be,” Hurst said.
That meant hard yards right to the finish.
“We got to the last can and it was all on. We had to give it everything we had, I just happened to get a nice couple of swells towards the end,” Hurst said.
The women’s race was far more decisive, with Australia’s Melissa Gorman once again, too good for New Zealand’s best Cara Baker and Charlotte Webby.
“It was a little different to what I was expecting. Standing on the beach it looked quite calm, but once I got there it was quite choppy, but as an open water swimmer you have to adjust, and I did that successfully,” Gorman said.
While both Hurst and Gorman are still someway down in the overall series standings, their wins today mean they are now strong favourites to win the overall series and the $20,000 grand prize.
“$20,000 is a lot of money and it’ll definitely help me out a lot back home, with my training and travel plans. So, I’d love to have a good race in Auckland just like everyone, so it should be a cracker,” Gorman said.
“I love coming to New Zealand and doing these State ocean swims. It is one of the best run series in the world, and for me to be a part of it is an absolute joy. And at the end of the day if I can walk away with $20,000, it’ll certainly be icing on the cake,” Hurst said.
To be eligible for the $20,000, each swimmer must compete in a minimum of three of the six races. 100 points is awarded to each race winner, with double points on offer in the final round, the State King of the Bays on Auckland’s North Shore on April 6th. Just the top three performances from each swimmer count in the standings.