SWIMMING Preview: Worlds are over, so the World Cup begins and the Iron Lady is entered in 14 events!

Triple Olympic gold medalist Katinka Hosszu (HUN, at left) chats with Japan's 400 m Medley Worlds bronze medalist Yui Ohashi (Photo: FINA)

The high point for swimming’s popularity in three out of every four years – the World Championships and the Olympic Games – has passed, but FINA’s swimming calendar has no break, with the first of seven stops on the FINA World Cup beginning on Thursday in Tokyo (JPN).

This week’s swims will be at the Tatsumi International Swimming Centre, in a 50 m pool, with FINA becoming ever more clever in the way it is organizing its meets. Olympic qualifying times can only be achieved in long-course (50 m) pools, so all seven of the World Cup meets will be in these pools, not the short-course (25 m) pools used regularly in prior years.

That’s also in contrast with the International Swimming League, which will begin its season in October in 25 m pools, with none of the marks applicable to Tokyo 2020.

The dominant figure in the FINA World Cup in the last decade has been Hungary’s triple Olympic champ Katinka Hosszu – the Iron Lady – who won the seasonal title five years in a row from 2012-16. She finished second to Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom in 2017 and 2018, but the Swede is not entered in Tokyo.

Instead, Hosszu appears ready to yet again demonstrate her amazing conditioning and has entered 14 of the 16 events on the women’s individual program! However, amazingly, she won’t be alone, as Russia’s Vitalina Simonova, the European silver medalist in the 200 m Breaststroke back in 2013, has also entered 14 events!

Russian sprinter Vladimir Morozov won the overall title in 2016 and 2018, and is entered in four events in Tokyo.

Japanese fans will be looking forward to the men’s Medley races, where Daiya Seto, Gwangju gold medalist in the 400 m Medley, will be swimming, with Kosuke Hagino, the Rio silver medalist in the 200 m Medley, will be in the pool.

With Gwangju and Tokyo so close, there’s an unusually high number of U.S. swimmers in this meet: nine men and one woman. Star sprinter Michael Andrew is entered in seven events and triple Olympic Backstroke gold medalist Ryan Murphy is in five. The top entries:

● Mitch Larkin (AUS) ~ 50-100-200 m Back, 200 m Medley
● Danas Rapsys (LTU) ~ 100-200-400 m Free, 50 m Back
● Ilya Shymanovich (BLR) ~ 50-100-200 m Breast
● Kosuke Hagino (JPN) ~ 200 m Free, 200 m Medley
● Daiya Seto (JPN) ~ 400 m Medley
● Vladimir Morozov (RUS) ~ 50-100 m Free, 50 m Back, 50 m Fly
● Andrii Govorov (UKR) ~ 50 m Free, 50 m Fly
Michael Andrew (USA) ~ 50 m Free, 50-100 m Back, 50-100 m Breast, 50-100 m fly
Zach Hartung (USA) ~ 50-200 m Fre; 50-100-200 m Fly
Ryan Murphy (USA) ~ 50-100 m Free, 50-100-200 m Back
Jacob Pebley (USA) ~ 50-100-200 m Back
Blake Pieroni (USA) ~ 50-100-200-400 m Free; 50-100 m Fly
Josh Prenot (USA) ~ 50-100-200 m Breast; 50-100-200 m Fly
Andrew Seliskar (USA) ~ 50-100-200 m Free; 100-200 m Breast; 50-100-200 m Fly
Andrew Wilson (USA) ~ 50-100-200 m Breast

● Cate Campbell (AUS) ~ 50-100 m Free; 50 m Back; 50 m Fly
● Kiah Melverton (AUS) ~ 400-800 m Free; 200-400 m Medley
● Emily Seebohm (AUS) ~ 50-100-200 m Back; 50 m Breast; 200 m Medley
● Brianna Throssell (AUS) ~ 100-200 m Free; 50-100-200 m Fly
● Federica Pellegrini (ITA) ~ 100-200-400 m Free
● Jeannette Ottesen (DEN) ~ 50 m Free; 50-100 m Fly
● Mireia Belmonte (ESP) ~ 200-400-800 m Free; 200 m Fly, 200-400 m Free
● Alia Atkinson (JAM) ~ 50-100-200 m Breast; 50-100 m Fly
● Yui Ohashi (JPN) ~ 200-400 m Medley
Erica Sullivan (USA) ~ 200-400-800 m Free; 200 m Back; 200 m Fly; 400 m Medley
● Katinka Hosszu (HUN) ~ 100-200-400-800 m Free; 50-100-200 m Back; 100-200 m Breast; 50-100-200 m Fly; 200-400 m Medley
● Vitalina Simonova (RUS) ~ 50-100-200-400-800 m Free; 50-100 m Back; 50-100-200 m Breast; 50-100 m Fly; 200-400 m Medley

The 2019 rules allow swimmers to enter as many events as they wish, but only the top three will count for ranking points toward cluster and overall prize money. The individual-event prize money is $1,500-1,000-500-400-300-200 for the top six places and points are 12-9-6 for each event, with bonus points for the top performances according to the FINA points table. The total prize purse for the overall World Cup is about $2.5 million.

With Hosszu and Andrew in the meet, it has to be pointed out that both are named plaintiffs in the International Swimming League’s ongoing lawsuits against FINA, but the federation has not banned them or kept them from entering any event.

The World Cup is being shown in the fina.tv subscription service, but does not appear on U.S. channel listings. Look for results here.