BEIJING, China, November 1. THE FINA World Cup excitement returns to the public after a nearly two-week hiatus. The action was postponed as athletes ended the European leg of the Circuit, moving from Berlin, Germany to Beijing, China. Adding to the spectacle is that competitors will race in the “Water Cube,” the Aquatic Sports Venue of the Beijing 2008 Olympics. So what can World Cup fans expect this weekend, with the kick-off of the Asian leg of the FINA Circuit?
As the last leg of the circuit (starting in Beijing, then moving to Tokyo, and ending in Singapore), fans can expect a few new faces, a few old faces and lots of fast races; all capped under the umbrella of prize money. To see the current standings, check out the Money List after the last World Cup stop in Berlin.
Katinka Hosszu continues to prove how serious she is about claiming the honors as World Cup Champion. Her point standing is far ahead of the other women on the tour, with Zsuzanna Jakobs a distant second. With this in mind, she seems to have scaled down on her event numbers, entering in the 200 freestyle, 200IM and 200 backstroke on day one.
Hosszu will probably cinch the win in the 200 freestyle, and then face tough competition from China's Ye Shiwen in the 200IM. Ye won gold, and set an Olympic Record, in the event in London. In the 200 backstroke, Hosszu will need to upset top-qualifier Melissa Ingram for the win; a tough move, considering she is seeded over four seconds ahead of Hosszu.
George Bovell will look to repeat his 100IM win on the first day, after edging out Kenneth To and Darian Townsend in Berlin. The sprint IM is Bovell's only event on the first day. To, meanwhile is favoring the sprint events as the Circuit winds down, racing the 100 freestyle, 100 IM and 50 butterfly on the first day. To is slightly ahead in the overall point rankings, but fifth in total earnings at this point.
Although Jessica Hardy started her World Cup tour late in the game, she's a strong contender to win a number of events in Beijing. She's well ahead of the field in the 100 breaststroke, and a top challenger for the 50 freestyle title. Her biggest competition in the 50 will be the Netherland's Inge Dekker, who is also the top qualifier in the 100 butterfly.
Check out day one's heat sheets below, and follow live coverage of the World Cup through SwimmingWorld.com and on our Twitter feed @SwimmingWorld #FINAWorldCup