Top Field for Iconic Auckland Race

Two of the world’s leading open water swimmers Australian Ky Hurst and South African Troy Prinsloo, have confirmed they’ll be swimming the State Harbour Crossing, on Sunday week.

Both are double Olympians, with Prinsloo finishing 12th in the Open Water 10km event in London this year, and Hurst finishing 20th.

Prinsloo, 27, is from Durban. Before concentrating on open water swimming, he was a 1500m freestyle specialist, winning bronze at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and competing at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Ky Hurst, 31, is returning to New Zealand for the first time since winning the 2008 Capital Classic.

Hurst is a legend in surf lifesaving across the Tasman, winning 28 Australian surf titles and 7 Ironman championships.

He is also an outstanding open water swimmer, finishing 5th in the 2011 World Open Water championships to qualify for London. In Beijing 2008, he finished 11th in the 10km race.

“The Harbour Crossing is my first big race since the Olympics in London. I’m not expecting to be brilliant, but I’m very competitive and want to win it,” Hurst said.

Event director Scott Rice says to have both Prinsloo and Hurst in Auckland is hugely exciting.

“This pair now mean the quality of the field for the State Harbour Crossing is the strongest it’s ever been,” he said.

Also in the field is English Channel record holder Australian Trent Grimsey, who easily won the State Paihia Classic, round one of the series, two weeks ago.

Grimsey’s younger brother, Codie, is also back. He won the 2010 Harbour Crossing.

The women’s race is also shaping up as an equally intriguing battle.

Australian based Cara Baker, 22, is back to defend her race win last year, and will go head to head with Taranaki’s Charlotte Webby, 24, who convincingly won in Paihia.

Baker, who’s been based on the Gold Coast for eight years, says after failing to qualify for the London Olympic Games earlier this year, she seriously considered retiring.

But a second-equal place finish in the penultimate round of the FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup race in Hong Kong last month reignited her desire.

“That result was a turning point for me. I was in a bad way mentally and physically after failing to get to London, but I’m now really looking forward to swimming on Sunday week in an event which is one of my favourites,” Baker said.