A tough challenge for the elite men’s field in the State La Grande Swim at Akaroa on Sunday.
New Zealand Open water champion Kane Radford will be making his first appearance of the 2014/2015 State Ocean Swim Series. The Perth-based 24-year-old missed the opening three events of the series, to focus on qualifying for the World Championships. He’s now done that and has turned his attention to regaining the Ocean Swim Series title he last held in 2012.
“I really want to get that title back in my name. The Aussies have come over and won it the last two years and it’s time to get it back under a New Zealander’s name,” said Radford.
“I feel pretty confident. I’m not going to waste my time flying all the way from Perth and not put up a good fight,” he said.
Radford’s stiffest challenge is likely to come from Phillip Ryan. The Aucklander finished third in the first two events of the series and will be looking to improve on that over the 2.8km course at Akaroa.
Others to look out for are Cambridge swimmer Troy Balvert, who has shown solid form in the series to date, as well as Australian teenager Liam Thomson, who is making his first appearance in the series.
Meanwhile, the women’s event is wide open with Charlotte Webby and Emma Robinson, who won the first three races between them, sitting out the event.
Series leader Aimee Moss, who has lined up in every event so far, will be hoping that consistency pays off with her first win in the competition. However, fellow Aucklander Abi Chapman, who is currently second overall, will have designs on closing the gap on her rival
The fly in the ointment for both could be Stefanie Gillespie, who won the 2.4km Bondi to Bronte event in December, while Christchurch swimmer Gendi Roberts and Sam Winward will be aiming to improve their current standings of 5th and 9th respectively.
Around 900 swimmers will compete in this year’s State La Grande Swim at Akaroa on Sunday, February 15th. The main 2.8km race starts at French Bay at 12:10pm and finishes at Children’s Bay.
2014/2015 Series Standings (After three rounds):
1. Yasunari Hirai (Japan) 200.00
2. George O’Brien (Queensland) 199.14
3. Phillip Ryan (Auckland) 198.77
4. Liam Albery (Wellington) 198.39
5. Michael Sheil (Queensland) 197.52
6. Troy Balvert (Waikato) 197.32
7. Nathan Capp (Auckland) 100.00
8. Jarrod Poort (New South Wales) 98.71
9. Dylan Dunlop-Barrett (Auckland) 98.60
10. Jun Dai (China) 98.59
1. Aimee Moss (Auckland) 276.68
2. Abi Chapman (Auckland) 275.69
3. Charlotte Webby (New Plymouth) 200.00
4. Laura Crockart (New South Wales) 196.40
5. Gendi Roberts (Christchurch) 187.00
6. Emma Robinson (Wellington) 100.00
7. Lauren Boyle (Auckland) 95.55
8. Alessandra Colombini (New South Wales) 93.92
9. Sam Winward (Christchurch) 93.65
10. Bridget Maher (Auckland) 93.60