Yasunari Hirai Goes 2 For 2 In Auckland

Yasunari Hirai Goes 2 For 2 In Auckland

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Japanese Olympian Yasunari Hirai is 2 for 2 at the State Ocean Swim Series in New Zealand. He won the State Harbour Crossing leg in Auckland, a 2.9 km race from Bayswater to the Viaduct, in a close race over George O’Brien with Phillip Ryan a mere two seconds behind in third.

Hirai had earlier won the opening race in the Bay of Islands and has now compiled 200 points as the 6-round series breaks for Christmas.

Ryan led for much of the race held in calm, flat conditions before being out-sprinted by the foreign visitors who train together on the Gold Coast in Australia.

I wanted to get out and grab a great line, put the pressure on and extend the lead, but in the end they caught me,” Ryan said. “Yasu passed me, though I tried to stick on his feet, then George did as well. However, I was glad I stayed in there for third.”

Fellow Kiwi Troy Balvert led the elite field out of a sunny Bayswater before Ryan took over at the second buoy. The middle third saw a 6-way tussle involving the top three, Balvert, Liam Albery and Australian Jarrod Poort though Ryan kept his nose in front as the field headed into the Viaduct.

As he had done in Paihia, the 24-year-old Hirai is gaining confidence and has an extra gear that will be well-used as he prepares for the 2015 FINA World Championships that also serves as the first Olympic 10K Marathon Swim qualifier.

Yasu had more to give in the end,” said O’Brien. “I knew that’s what he would do and I was hoping I had enough but he was too good today.”

Ryan will now focus his attention to the New Zealand Open Water Championships in Taupo and the other events in Australia. He was very complimentary of the event. “It’s great for Auckland, for the event and for open water swimming in general.”

More than 1600 competitors finished the race which was first held in 2004.

Top 3 Finishers:
1. Yasunari Hirai (Japan) 35:24
2. George O’Brien (Australia) 35:39
3. Phillip Ryan (New Zealand) 35:41

Photo by Simon Watts.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones