Shark scare or not, some of the world's top long-distance swimmers will converge at Repulse Bay next Sunday for the Panasonic Marathon World Cup. Open water world number one Stephane Gomez of France will spearhead his country's challenge as the current leader of the World Cup standings in the 13-leg series. Hong Kong will be the fifth leg and swimmers from 12 countries will be competing in the 10km race. The series began in February with the first leg in Rio Coronda in Argentina and Gomez showed his class by finishing ahead of a strong field. He also took fifth place in Ein El Sokhna in the Red Sea in Egypt in March. The Frenchman returned to prominence by finishing second in Dubai last month behind Bulgarian Petar Stoychev, the overall winner of the 2001, 2002 and 2003 World Cups. Stoychev is currently second in the standings. More than 50 other top swimmers from Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Russia, China and Hong Kong will compete in the Hong Kong leg, worth US$20,000 in total prize money, with US$3,000 going to the men's and women's winners. The women's competition is expected to be just as hotly contested with Shelley Clark of Australia and the Czech Republic's Yvette Halavacova battling it out as the current world numbers three and four respectively. Hong Kong last hosted a leg of the series in 2002. Apart from the World Cup Marathon, less talented swimmers are being encouraged to take part in the Hong Kong Open Swimming Competition to be held over three distances - 3.5km, 2km and 750 metres. On Tuesday, Repulse Bay beach was closed for two hours after a second reported shark sighting in as many days. However, police and lifeguards found no sign of a shark.