Hurst and Gorman Triumph

Australians Ky Hurst and Melissa Gorman have secured the biggest ever cash prize in New Zealand swimming history, after winning the State King of the Bays ocean swim race on Auckland’s North Shore on Saturday.

Both of their victories helped them win the overall series and the $20,000 prize for first place.

Hurst, a double Olympian in open water swimming for Australia, showed his class in winning the men’s race, which was tight right from the start.

With water conditions flat and calm, a large group swam together the entire 2.8 kilometres, resulting in the most competitive race of the six race series.

“I was really nervous leading into this one,” said Hurst.  “I had a huge break after the Olympics, so I’ve been fighting my fitness all season.  Today was the hardest race I’ve done all season and to be able to emerge out of the water first was just a huge relief.”

Hurst was most wary of New Zealand number one Kane Radford, who also had the challenge of overcoming the removal of his appendix just three weeks ago, costing him valuable preparation time.

The two stuck to each other like glue through the race, with Hurst freely admitting he’d give Radford “a little tickle on his feet” to remind him “I was still around”.

In the end, Hurst’s greater skills on land proved the deciding factor.

“Kane today was exceptional, and to tell you the truth I felt really bad for passing him at the finish,” Hurst said. “The run in was very long, and I was always confident that when we got to the beach, I’d get him on the sand.”

“I definitely left it all out there, gave it everything I could,” Radford said.  “Tried numerous times to drop Ky and the other lead guys, just didn’t have it out there today.”

Radford ended up finishing third, just a second behind Taranaki’s Dylan Dunlop-Barrett, a London Olympian in the New Zealand freestyle relay team, and the 2011 King of the Bays winner.

In the women’s race, Queensland’s former world 5km champion and two-time Olympian, Melissa Gorman proved far too strong for New Zealanders Cara Baker and Charlotte Webby.

In fact, Gorman swam with many of the elite men the entire way, motivated by the prospect by beating as many as she could.  She finished just 11 seconds behind Hurst, a remarkable effort.

“The boys don’t like being beaten by the girls,” Gorman said.  “I’m not sure who it was who sprinted past me at the finish, and I was trying so hard to run, but I’m not really that great on the land.”

Gorman also takes away a $20,000 cash prize, helping her training and travel fund.

“As boring as it sounds, it’s just going towards paying the bills.  I love swimming and it’s just amazing that I can earn a living from it.