DUBAI, UAE, October 2. THE 2012 FINA World Cup circuit kicked off with a sterling first night of competition at the Dubai stop as Hungary's Katinka Hosszu was the most dominant swimmer of the evening.
Tonight, Hosszu obviously started taking out some frustration from her fourth-place finish in the 400 IM at the 2012 London Olympics. She turned in a trio of gold-medal winning performances this evening, along with a bronze, en route to $5,000 in race winnings.
Meanwhile, Japan's Daiya Seto ($3,500) and Kenneth To ($3,000) each cleared $3,000 in winnings on the men's side, while 2011 FINA World Cup overall winner Therese Alshammar of Sweden also pocketed $3,000 with a pair of victories this evening. Along the way to his strong race winnings tally, To blasted his Australian record in the 100 IM.
For a quick refresher course, the FINA World Cup is a global circuit of two-day meets all swum in short course meters (25m) setups. Swimmers vie for cash earnings with first-place individual winners earning $1,500, while second place wins $1,000. Third place in each event also takes home $500. Relays are not money races.
The overall circuit winners for the men and women by the end of the eight-meet series next month will win $100,000 each. Chad Le Clos and Alshammar both banked six-figure paydays last year with Le Clos topping out at $145,500, including nearly $50k in just race winnings alone.
Women's 800 free
Hungary's Katinka Hosszu hung with Slovenia's Tanja Smid throughout the initial stages of the distance freestyle event before Smid began to fade with about 200 meters left in the event. Hosszu went on to dominate the finale by nearly two seconds with an 8:31.70. Smid, meanwhile, checked in with second with an 8:33.54, while Hungary's Zsuzsanna Jakabos touched third in 8:38.15. Hosszu earned the first $1,500 check of the meet.
Men's 100 free
Australia's Kenneth To overtook USA's Anthony Ervin in a stocked men's freestyle finale. To surged past Ervin with a blazing 46.89 to capture the gold medal, and the accompanying $1,500 check. Meanwhile, Ervin posted a lifetime best, at a 47.04, earning second place and a cool thousand! South Africa's Roland Schoeman touched third in 47.24. To's time would have put him sixth in the world last short course season after having a season-best of 47.59 from the Australian Short Course Championships.
Women's 200 free
Hungary's Katinka Hosszu ran her overall winnings to $3,000 in less than 10 minutes as she dominated the women's 200 free with a 1:55.97 after topping the 800 free to start the night. Hong Kong's Sze Hang Yu raced to second in 1:57.12, edging Ukraine's Darya Zevina, who took third in 1:57.75. Hungary's Zsuzsanna Jakabos just missed her second third-place finish and check with a fourth-place 1:57.82.
Combining Hosszu's two swims at just more than 10 minutes of actual time swimming, Hosszu's working wage per hour is just under $18,000.
Men's 50 breast
Heavy favorite, Cameron van der Burgh snared the sprint breast crown in 26.64 in his first action since a controversial gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. Van der Burgh later admitted to using an illegal dolphin kick to win in London, and will be under the microscope during the World Cup circuit to see if he is still using the advantage. His teammate Guilio Zorzi of South Africa placed second in 26.91, while New Zealand's Glenn Snyders earned third-place honors in 27.04. Van der Burgh's top time last season in this event was a 26.89 from the Salnikov meet last December. He's already looking to be in top form.
Women's 100 breast
A trio of swimmers touched in the 1:06 range with Sweden's Jennie Johansson emerging with a victorious time of 1:06.27. Japan's Fumiko Kawanabe checked in with a second-place time of 1:06.62, while Sweden's Joline Hostman pocketed third place with a 1:06.96. Johansson has a lot more left in the tank for the rest of the circuit, having already clocked a 1:05.27 last season for her circuit-best time at the Stockholm stop. Hostman ranked 20th in the world a year ago with a 1:06.23.
Men's 400 IM
Japan's Daiya Seto nearly took down his best time from last year's World Cup in Tokyo of 4:02.44 with a triumphant time of 4:02.64 as the man from China dominated the finale by more than four seconds. Hungary's Laszlo Cseh, feeling the after effects from his outing at the London Olympics, wound up well back with a second-place time of 4:06.69. China's Huang Chaosheng completed the top three with a 4:06.78. Cseh's top time last year at the European Short Course Championships was a 4:01.68. He has some time to make up if he plans on cashing in during the World Cup series this year.
Women's 100 fly
Sweden's Therese Alshammar, 35, continues to own short course competition in World Cup swimming. Alshammar, who won the 2011 FINA World Cup overall title and the $100,000 grand prize that went with it, started off with a win tonight in the 100 fly. Alshammar checked in with a 57.91, while The Netherlands' Inge Dekker took second in 58.30. Hong Kong's Sze Hang Yu earned her second paycheck of the night with a third-place 58.37 after taking second earlier in the night. Alshammar topped last short course season with a blazing time of 55.62 at the Berlin stop of the World Cup.
Men's 100 back
Russia's Stanislav Donets blasted the field in the 100 back finale with a scorching time of 50.62. Australia's Ashley Delaney placed second in 51.28, while Poland's Radoslaw Kawecki edged USA's Tom Shields, 52.04 to 52.06, for the final podium spot. Donets would have ranked in the top five in the world last year with his performance tonight, while Delaney would have been in the top 15. Matt Grevers owned the top time in the world last year with a 49.85 at the Duel in the Pool in December. Kawecki's top time a year ago was a fourth-ranked 50.36.
Women's 50 back
Australia's Rachel Goh clinched a .36 second victory in the sprint backstroke event with a 27.02. Japan's Noriko Inada placed second in 27.38, while Sweden's Michelle Coleman touched third in 27.98. Goh used her superior underwater skills en route to her first victory on the circuit. She has a bit more left as her top time last year came with a 26.60 in Berlin. Inada, meanwhile, clocked a 27.02 last year for her best, while Coleman had a 27.12 from the Euro Short Course Championships in December with all of the top three tonight having been ranked in the top 25 a year ago.
Men's 200 fly
In what turned out to be a stellar two-man race throughout, Olympic gold medalist and 2011 FINA World Cup overall victory Chad Le Clos held off the upset-minded Daiya Seto of Japan for the distance fly triumph. Le Clos ripped off a time of 1:51.61, while Seto touched in 1:51.71 after having already won the 400 IM earlier in the evening in a tough 400 IM/200 fly double. Velimir Stjepanovic completed the podium with a third-place time of 1:56.18. Le Clos' top time last year was a 1:50.15 from the Berlin stop of the World Cup, just behind Takeshi Matsuda's top-ranked effort of 1:49.50 from the Tokyo stop. Seto, meanwhile, would have ranked in the top 10 with his effort. Stjepanovic has plenty of potential to go faster throughout the rest of the circuit with a season-best of 1:52.09 from the Euro Short Course Championships last year.
Women's 200 IM
Katinka Hosszu has been the top earner so far this meet with an incredible triple tonight. After winning $3,000 in just more than 10 minutes of swimming earlier in the night, Hosszu returned with another first-place $1,500 paycheck with a 2:10.53 to top the women's 200 IM. That's $4,500 in just 12 minutes of swimming. Compatriot Zsuzsanna Jakabos raced to second in 2:11.42 for her second check of the night, while Ukraine's Anna Dzerkal earned third-place honors in 2:11.79. Hosszu cruised in this event, as her top time from a year ago was a sixth-ranked 2:07.64 at the Duel in the Pool. She should drop some major time as the circuit continues.
Men's 400 free
Japan's Kosuke Hagino, one of several youngsters like Daiya Seto and Akihiro Yamaguchi leading a changing of the guard in the sport in his country, raced through the middle distance event with a winning time of 3:40.77. Australia's Robert Hurley turned in a second-place 3:41.49, while China's Wang Kecheng touched third in 3:44.32. Hagino would have ranked sixth in the world last year with his effort, with the top time going to Paul Biedermann (3:38.65). Hurley trumped his season-best from last year of 3:41.93 set at the Beijing stop of the World Cup.
Women's 50 free
Note to the world, Sweden's Therese Alshammar rarely loses during the World Cup and tonight was no different. Alshammar edged Germany's Britta Steffen in the sprint free, 24.50 to 24.57, for her second win of the night to push her race winnings to $3,000. Steffen earned her first paycheck with her swim, while The Netherlands' Inge Dekker snagged third with a 24.75 for her second paycheck of the night. Both Alshammar and Steffen have more to come during the World Cup circuit. Alshammar's top time a year ago was a third-ranked 23.67 from the Berlin stop, while Steffen checked in with a 24.07 to rank seventh.
Men's 200 breast
Germany's Marco Koch, a World Cup veteran, clipped Japan's Daiya Seto in the distance breaststroke event, 2:05.26 to 2:05.72, as Seto wound up on the podium for the third time this evening. USA's Sean Mahoney, meanwhile, rounded out the top three. Koch's top time a year ago came by way of a 2:04.41 at the Euro Short Course Championships. He also put in some serious time early in the 2011 FINA World Cup, finishing second in race winnings with $11,000 behind Le Clos' $45,500. Seto could challenge that amount as he moves forward in the circuit.
Men's 100 IM
Australia's Kenneth To raced to his second triumph of the evening as he clocked in with a 51.43 in the sprint medley. Trinidad and Tobago's George Bovell placed second in 52.19, while South Africa's Darian Townsend earned third in 52.60. With his second victory, To pushed his winnings to $3,000. To's time bested his Australian record of 51.93 from the Australian short course championships, and his time this evening jumped him to sixth all time in the event. Bovell just missed his lifetime best of 51.97 from Worlds last year, while Townsend has a 51.80 to his credit.
Women's 200 back
Ukraine's Darya Zevina touched out New Zealand's Melissa Ingram, 2:05.01 to 2:05.22, for her first win and second podium of the night. Meanwhile, Hungary's Katinka Hosszu increased her nightly race winnings to a cool $5,000 with a third-place check after clocking a 2:07.67. Zevina's best effort a year ago was a 2:02.25 from the Euro Short Course Championships, while Ingram had a 2:03.00 to rank seventh a year ago at the Beijing World Cup stop.
Men's 50 fly
Kenya's Jason Dunford clipped 2011 FINA World Cup winner Chad Le Clos of South Africa, 22.77 to 22.86, in the sprint fly. Meanwhile, South Africa's Roland Schoeman checked in with a third-place 22.94. Dunford bettered his season-best from last year of 22.92 at the Singapore stop of the World Cup, and would have ranked sixth last year with his time from this evening. Le Clos, meanwhile, blasted his season best from a year ago, a 23.79 from the South African nationals.
Mixed 200 medley relay
Germany used a superior breaststroke leg from Marco Koch to take the lead and never looked back as the foursome of Jenny Mensing, Koch, Helge Meeuw and Britta Steffen won the first mixed 200-meter medley relay held on the World Cup circuit. Germany topped the finale by more than two seconds with a 1:43.21. Hungary's Laszlo Cseh, Zsuzsanna Jakabos, Katinka Hosszu and Krisztian Takacs earned second in 1:45.31, while Ukraine's Darya Zevina, Anna Dzerkal, Andrii Govorov and Sergii Frolov picked up third-place honors in 1:45.89.