SWIMMING Preview: FINA World Cup starts in Kazan

The 30th edition of the FINA Swimming World Cup starts up at the site of the 2015 World Championships in Kazan (RUS), the first of seven meets over the next two months:

Cluster I:
∙ 07–09 September: (50 m) Kazan (RUS)
∙ 13-15 September: (50 m) Doha (QAT)

Cluster II:
∙ 28-30 September: (25 m) Eindhoven (NED)
∙ 04-06 October: (25 m) Budapest (HUN)

Cluster III:
∙ 02-04 November: (25 m) Beijing (CHN)
∙ 09-11 November: (25 m) Tokyo (JPN)
∙ 15-17 November: (25 m) Singapore (SGP)

There are three levels of prize money: $1,500-1,000-500-400-300-200 in individual events, then big bonuses of $50,000-35,000-30,000-20,000-10,000-5,000-4,000-3,000 for each cluster and finally a $150,000-10,000-50,000 bonus for the overall standings.

The series has been dominated in recent years by South Africa’s Chad le Clos and Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu. In the men’s overall standings, le Clos won in 2011-13-14-17, with teammate Cameron van der Burgh winning in 2015 (also in 2008-09) and Russian Vladimir Morozov won in 2016.

Hosszu overwhelmed the opposition by entering nearly every event in every meet in 2012-13-14-15-16, but the rules were changed last year to limit a swimmer to three events per meet. Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom came forward and performed brilliantly, winning the series over Hosszu and setting four world records during the series in the 50 m Free (1), 100 m Free (2) and 200 m Free (1) along the way.

Hosszu complained loudly – and correctly – about the rule changes aimed essentially at her. So for 2018, the rules were changed again to allow a swimmer to compete in as many events as desired, but only the top three results would count in the points standings.

Le Clos, Sjostrom and Hosszu are all confirmed for Kazan. The top U.S. entry will be Michael Andrew, the quadruple U.S. champion in 2018 in the 50 m Free, 50 and 100 m Breaststroke and 50 m Fly.

At a Kazan news conference to promote the event, Le Clos put the series in perspective: “This World Cup represents an opportunity to improve and work on the smaller things to be ready for the major events.” All too true, but fans of swimming should hope for more from this concept, which has so much unrealized potential.

Look for results here.