DOHA, Qatar, October 5. IN a couple hours' time, swimmers will snap on their caps and goggles at the Hamad Aquatic Center in Doha, Qatar, for the second meet in FINA World Cup Series. This is the last stop in the Middle East before World Cup athletes head to Stockholm, Sweden to begin the European leg.
The FINA World Cup is a global circuit of two-day meets, swum short course meters (SCM). Swimmers race for cash prizes with the top three earning $1,500, $1,000 and $500, respectively. Although this year's 2012 circuit marks the first time mixed relays are included as events, they are “trials” and therefore not considered money races. The top ten finishers in each event win points, starting at 27 for first and ending at one for tenth, which are then added up to determine the overall circuit winners for the men and women. The competitors with the most points at the end of the month-long series win an additional $100,000 each. In the 2011 circuit, South Africa's Chad Le Clos and Sweden's Therese Alshammar came away with the big checks.
Although Alshammar is making the World Cup rounds again at this years' circuit, easily the early breakout star of the series is the Hungary's Katinka Hosszu. In the first leg of the series in Dubai, Hosszu won a remarkable eight gold medals and came away with $11,000 in cash earnings. Can she turn around several days later and do it all again? Hosszu confirmed with Swimming World that she would be competing in the entire circuit, so stay tuned to find out.
Click here for the full money list. This list will be updated after every finals session.
The World Cup is known for having quick sessions, usually with less than five heats per event. Even so, we can always count on several high-profile athletes swimming in each event.
Look for a stacked men's field in the 100 IM on day one. George Bovell, Darian Townsend, Kenneth To, Roland Schoeman and Laszlo Cseh are all entered in the sprint IM, probably because the opportunities to race it are severely limited after the pre-teen years.
Ervin swam a lifetime best in both the 50 (21.07) and 100 (47.04) freestyle events several days ago in Dubai. Expect him to go even faster in Doha, because in the world of sprinting, he's just extending his taper.
In the men's 100 backstroke, Russia's Stanislav Donets is entered in a 48.95 time one one-hundredth off Nick Thoman's world record (48.94). Donets swam this time in the 2010 short course worlds, but hasn't approached that form since. If he breaks the mark, that would be an additional $10,000 payday. Any world record broken over the course of the meet earns the swimmer this sum, with up to $50,000 set aside for broken world records.
The pool deck in the Hamad Aquatic Center will be filled with familiar faces, fresh from Dubai, looking for medals and money. Expect exciting races, and — dare we say it? — another fat check for Hosszu.
Check out the events in the heat sheet below and let us know who you're excited to follow in Doha: