Since FINA changed the rules in 2017 to limit the number of points that swimmers can compile by swimming in multiple events, Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu saw her five-year grip on the World Cup ended by Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom in 2017.
That looked to be the case once again in 2018, as Sjostrom started strong in the long-course events and won the first cluster easily. But after a very strong performance in the Beijing (CHN) stop last week, Hosszu is suddenly on top of the standings for the third cluster (60 points) and has closed the gap to Sjostrom to just 15 points. The seasonal standings:
1. 272 Vladimir Morozov (RUS)
2. 168 Kirill Prigoda (RUS)
3. 165 Mitch Larkin (AUS)
4. 150 Michael Andrew (USA)
5. 147 Anton Chupkov (RUS)
1. 237 Sarah Sjostrom (SWE)
2. 222 Katinka Hosszu (HUN)
3. 204 Yulia Efimova (RUS)
4. 162 Ramoni Kromowidjojo (NED)
5. 132 Femke Heemskerk (NED)
This week, the next-to-last World Cup meeting is in Tokyo (JPN), at the Tatsumi International Swimming Center from Friday through Sunday. Hosszu now faces a decision on how to approach this meet if she wants to try for her sixth seasonal title.
On one hand, The Iron Lady is enraptured with swimming as many events as she can. She has entered a staggering 15 individual events, skipping only the 100 m Free and 100 m Fly, both likely wins for Sjostrom. But with event scoring at 12-9-6 for a maximum of three events, both Hosszu and Sjostrom will likely get the three wins. But the key to the scoring race is the bonus for the best performance according to the FINA points table. Hosszu scored the top event last week, getting an extra 24 (with 18-12 for places 2-3); can she do so again?
That raises the question: will Hosszu scratch out of some events in order to put more effort into getting max points from the FINA scoring table?
Sjostrom has a normal program of six events, including the 50-100-200 Frees, 50-100 Flys and 100 m Medley.
On the men’s side, Morozov is on the way to his second title in three years and he is entered in five events, including the 50-100 m Frees, 50 m Back, 50 m Fly and the 100 m Medley.
The meet prize money is $1,500-1,000-500-400-300-200 for the top six places; the seasonal title is worth $150,000, with second yielding $100,000 and third, $50,000.
The season will conclude next week in Singapore; look for results from Tokyo here.