Steven Kent has spent his life swimming in the wake of his former Olympian brother, Dean, but he feels it is time to cut his own path.
Steven, 23, who won the King of the Bays last season and finished sixth in the State Harbour Crossing in November, was to make his debut today in the State Russell-to-Paihia 3.3km swim in his first trip to the Bay of Islands.
He wants to make a name for himself against some high-calibre swimmers in the New Zealand Ocean Swim Series as he eyes following in his brother's footsteps to the Olympics.
"I do feel like I am maturing as a swimmer mentally and physically," said Steven.
"I have set goals to make the 2012 Olympics and to also continue with surf lifesaving and represent New Zealand at the 2012 World Championships.
"My goals for the Ocean Series this year are to try to take out a few events and also defend my King of the Bays title."
Steven acknowledged the success of the series in creating top swimmers with renowned New Zealand distance swimmers such as Kane Radford, Bryn Murphy and Philip Ryan providing a good challenge.
The Wellington swimmer, who earlier this year represented New Zealand in Surf Lifesaving World Championship, is accustomed to taking on Australia's best up-and-coming talents.
He has more than just elite swimming prowess in common with Aussie rival Codie Grimsey, who won the State Harbour Crossing, beating defending champion Murphy.
Grimsey is the younger brother of Trent Grimsey, who recently won one of Australia's most competitive ocean swims, the Noosa Eyeline 1000.
"I come from a big swimming family and I think that has helped me a lot," said the 20-year-old Australian.
"Especially when it comes to drawing on inspiration from my older brother; both his international achievements and also his strong work ethic at training are things I aspire to."
Similarly the Kent sibling rivalry has inspired Steven to a higher level.
"He is a legend," said Steven of his 32-year-old brother.
"He is always willing to help me out with anything I need, as brothers do, so that is great.
"We do have a mini-rivalry now but just when we race each other now not on what he has done in the past because what he has achieved is awesome.
"I have a dream of going to one Olympics, so to try going to three like he did would be huge."
The first step for Steven to get to London is achieving more success locally and beating the likes of Russell-to-Paihia defending champion Murphy, who loves what the swim offers.
"It was my favourite swim of the series last year and the first on my list of events this year," said the 24-year-old Murphy.
"The water is so much warmer and it is beautiful up there, which makes it a really enjoyable swim."
Murphy is using the race to be ready for a 10km event in New South Wales next week.
"There are about 10 guys capable of winning these events - I don't feel any pressure to defend my title.
"I look forward to this series every year so I am focused on enjoying it."
Murphy is not alone in his praise for the Bay of Islands as event organiser Scott Rice explains the decision to take the New Zealand Ocean Swim Series north last year was an easy one.
"It's not every day that people can swim in a safe environment from the country's first capital, Russell, to the beautiful shores of Paihia," said Rice.
"We were attracted to the region not only for its great beauty but also for the iconic nature of the long-distance swim from Russell to Paihia."
Event organisers are expecting more than 800 swimmers today (with 600 attempting 3.3km) and among them are a host of celebrities ready to test their ability.
Former Silver Fern Tania Dalton (3.3km), Warrior Kevin Locke, Black Stick hockey rep Jasmin McQuin and James McOnie (1km), from The Crowd Goes Wild, are confirmed to swim.
The Russell-to-Paihia offers four events: the State Ocean Kids (200m), 'Give It A Go' 300m, 'Step It Up' 1000m and the big one 'I'm Going Long' Russell to Paihia 3.3km.By Peter Thornton