27-year-old Melissa Gorman is a professional marathon swimmer who knows she has to travel to earn a living.

And she is on her way to New Zealand to earn the $20,000 cash prize as part of the New Zealand Ocean Swim Series’s round 4: the State Le Grande Swim in Akaroa this Saturday. The defending State New Zealand Ocean Swim series champion is going to figuratively have her chief Kiwi rivals on her left and right.

Up until now, the women’s series has been a head to head battle between New Zealand’s best Charlotte Webby and Cara Baker,” said event director Scott Rice. “Gorman’s arrival adds a new dimension.”

To be eligible for the $20,000, each swimmer must compete in a minimum of three of the six series races. 100 points is awarded to each race winner, with double points on offer in the final round, the 2.8 km State King of the Bays in April. Just the top three performances from each swimmer count in the standings.

For the women’s series leader, Charlotte Webby is ready to race. “Melissa’s an awesome swimmer so this race is going to be a huge challenge for me. I just have to go out hard from the start and swim my own race.” Last year’s race winner Grace Sommerville is also in the field. She recently beat Webby at the 10 km Open Water national championships on Lake Taupo.

On the men side, Michael Sheil and Josh Richardson are back in New Zealand. They both have had podium finishes at top ocean races in New Zealand including a double victory by 19-year-old Richardson at the 2011 New Zealand 5 km and 10 km open water national championships. He’s already tasted success in New Zealand winning the 2011 5km and 10km titles at the national championships. “I’ll be doing the last three rounds of the series, and I’m really looking forward to it. While I only came 7th in the 5km race at the recent Australian champs, only three seconds covered the top 11 swimmers. I’m fit, training well and confident.”

State New Zealand Ocean Swim Series Mens Standings (after Round 3):
1. Phillip Ryan (Auckland) 291.67
2. Kane Radford (Rotorua) 198.28
3. Codie Grimsey (Queensland) 197.89
4. Casey Glover (Wellington) 190.24

State New Zealand Ocean Swim Series Womens Standings (after Round 3):
1. Charlotte Webby (Taranaki) 299.57
2. Cara Baker (Auckland) 198.28
3. Kirsty Wannan (Auckland) 192.74
4. Courtney Carson (Hutt Valley) 190.19

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming