BEIJING, China, November 2. THE first night of competition at the FINA World Cup stop in Beijing, China in in the books and hometown Olympic champion Ye Shiwen rocked the crowd with a near World Cup record in the women's 200 IM. Meanwhile, circuit queen Katinka Hosszu might have had the dominant luster knocked off her reign the past two meets, but she still managed to have the top earning day with $3,000 as she closes in on $50,000 in race winnings alone.
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 Therese Alshammar both banked six-figure paydays last year with Le Clos topping out at $145,500, including nearly $50k in just race winnings. Thus far this year, Katinka Hosszu and Kenneth To lead the overall standings heading into the Asian leg of the tour.
Women's 800 free
She had some company as circuit newcomer Yan Siyu of China gave her a push down the stretch, but Hungary's Katinka Hosszu rocketed to the finish to win the distance event in 8:21.49. She just clipped Yan's second-place effort of 8:21.58. Australia's Laura Crockart earned third in 8:23.83. The win is Hosszu's 28th individual gold of the tour, and pushed her overall winnings to $47,250. She didn't need the fastest time on the circuit for the win however, as U.S. Junior National teamer Leah Smith still holds that mark with an 8:16.58 from the Berlin stop when she captured the gold medal there with Hosszu taking the event off.
Men's 100 free
Australia dropped a 1-2-3 finish in the men's sprint event. Tomasso D'Orsogna clinched the title in 47.06, while Cameron McEvoy (47.41) and Kenneth To (47.59) took second and third. South Africa's Darian Townsend and USA's Anthony Ervin tied for fourth with matching times of 47.63. D'Orsogna cracked the $10,000 barrier with his win, while To now sits at $13,000 in race winnings. The overall times were a bit slower than previous stops, with Ervin having clocked the best effort so far with a blazing 46.71 on the Berlin stop. D'Orsogna has also cleared 47 seconds with a 46.99 from Berlin as well.
Women's 200 free
Katinka Hosszu missed a podium double in what proved to be a remarkably close race in the 200 free. China's Yiwen Shao clinched the crown with a time of 1:55.13, while Hungary's Zsuzsanna Jakabos placed second by the slimmest of margins with a 1:55.14. China's Yuhan Qiu touched third in 1:55.24, with Hosszu earning fourth in 1:55.25. With France's Camille Muffat just a one-meet wonder with her stunning tour-best 1:52.28 in Berlin, with her sitting out the rest of the tour, the door is open for plenty of other challengers in the event. While Hosszu didn't add cash to her coffers, her wing-woman Jakabos certainly did, pushing her tally to $22,750.
Men's 50 breast
New Zealand's Glenn Snyders clipped Australia's Christian Sprenger, 26.64 to 26.74, in a battle for Oceanic bragging rights in the sprint breast. China's Wang Shuai wound up third overall in 26.86. Snyders now has $9,500 in circuit winnings, while Sprenger and Wang are newcomers to the podium on the tour. Snyders and Sprenger also have some time to make up to contend with the likes of Cameron van der Burgh's circuit-best effort of 25.95 from his victory in Doha.
Women's 100 breast
A brand new podium occurred in the women's 100 breast as the top three had not yet competed on the tour yet. Australia's Sarah Katsoulis (1:05.30) and Sally Foster (1:05.97) placed second and third, while Sweden's Rebecca Ejdervik (1:06.11) touched out tour veteran Rie Kaneto (1:06.32). The top times were competitive against the rest of the circuit, but fell off the pace set by Jessica Hardy in Berlin. Hardy topped the event there in 1:04.58. Ruta Meilutyte captured the title previously with a 1:05.02 in Stockholm.
Men's 400 IM
Without World Cup record-setter Daiya Seto in the race, the finish wound up being a bit disappointing. Seto had downed the World Cup record in Berlin with a sizzling 4:00.12. Tonight, China's Zhixian Yang won in 4:05.62. Australia's Travis Mahoney took second in 4:09.69, while China's Mao Feilian earned third in 4:10.68. The top three swimmers are new to the tour, and have joined up as part of the Asian leg of the circuit.
Women's 100 fly
The Netherlands' Inge Dekker kept adding to her winnings, this time with a victorious effort in the 100 fly. She stopped the clock in 57.62 for the win. Denmark's Jeanette Ottesen-Gray placed second in 58.01, while China's Zhang Yufei wound up third in 58.05. Singapore's Li Tao just missed the podium with a fourth-place 58.07. With the win, Dekker pushed her winnings to $11,500 overall, among the top 10 female earners on the circuit so far with money from every stop. Her time was well off the top pace of the circuit however, with Therese Alshammar posting the best time with a 56.68 from Stockholm.
Men's 100 back
In what has become a regular top three on the circuit, Russia's Stanislav Donets checked in with yet another victory in the 100 back with a 50.07 with Australia's Robert Hurley (50.25) and Ashley Delaney (51.53) pocketing second and third-place cash behind him. Donets now has won $15,500 with his backstroke prowess, while Hurley is up to $18,000 as more of a multi-event money machine on the circuit. Delaney has also earned money on each stop, pushing his total to $6,000. Donets has been a regular in the low 50s on the circuit, having also been the only man under 50 so far as well with a 49.74 in Moscow for the quickest time this year.
Women's 50 back
In what also has become a regular occurrence, Australia's Rachel Goh captured the sprint backstroke title with a 26.66 to increase her winnings to $15,500. Goh has dominated the backstroke on the circuit with her stellar underwater work. China's Cheng Haihua (26.81) and Zhou Yanxin (27.18) took second and third in the event. Goh's time tonight is the fastest on the tour this year by far, besting her 26.80 to win in Berlin. She's also nearly caught up to her best time a year ago of 26.60 in Beijing that ranked her fourth a year ago.
Men's 200 fly
Japan's Kazuya Kaneda won his third 200 fly title of the circuit, this time checking in with a time of 1:51.22. China's Shun Wang placed second in 1:52.14, while Australia's Christopher Wright checked in with a third-place time of 1:55.47. Kaneda's time is the fastest of the tour thus far, trumping the 1:51.30 to 1:51.31 finishing between Chad le Clos and Daiya Seto on the Doha stop. Kaneda could become the first swimmer under 1:51 as he closes in on his 1:51.05 season best from a year ago on the Tokyo stop.
Women's 200 IM
Olympic champion, and stunning world-record setter in the 400 IM in long course competition, China's Ye Shiwen made her mark on the World Cup tour with a sterling time of 2:06.10 in the middle-distance medley. She came home in a sizzling 29.57. Ye's effort just missed the World Cup record of 2:06.01 set by Evelyn Verraszto at the Moscow 2009 stop. She also came up a bit short of her lifetime best 2:05.94 set at last year's Worlds. Overall, her time tonight is the eighth fastest ever, giving her two of the top 10 times all time. Notably, she demolished the previous top time this year of 2:07.52 by Sophie Allen at the Berlin stop.
Meanwhile, Hungary's Zsuzsanna Jakabos touched second in 2:08.22, while Katinka Hosszu checked in with a third-place time of 2:08.35 as she continued to battle much tougher competition than the first four stops. Jakabos increased her winnings to $23,750 with her second-place check, while Hosszu moved up to $48,250 as she continues to steamroll to a grand prize payday in the overall FINA standings.
Men's 400 free
New Zealand got on the board again, this time with Matthew Stanley topping the middle-distance event in 3:40.74. USA's Michael Klueh checked into the circuit for the first time with a second-place 3:41.62, while China's Li Yunqi earned third in 3:41.83. Stanley's time is the fastest on the tour so far this year, clipping the 3:40.77 used by Kosuke Hagino to win the event in Dubai. It is also nearly the best top two finish, as Robert Hurley took second to Hagino in Dubai with a 3:41.49.
Women's 50 free
With circuit sprint queen Britta Steffen not competing in Beijing, China's Yin Fan topped the splash-and-dash this evening in 24.47. The Netherlands' Inge Dekker cashed her second check of the night with a second-place time of 24.53. China's Zhang Ying picked up third in 24.60. Yin's time moved her among the top on the tour this year, but still well behind the 24.08 Steffen used to win in Stockholm.
Men's 200 breast
USA's Sean Mahoney put another check in the win column with a 2:06.38 to top the distance breaststroke event. The win gave Mahoney $5,500 in winnings thus far, but was well back of his previous strong times of 2:04.55 and 2:05.11 from earlier on the tour. Meanwhile, China's Xie Zhi (2:08.12) and Liu Weijia (2:08.99) completed the podium.
Men's 100 IM
The two fastest swimmers in the event this year with a 51.43 and 51.20 to their credit, respectively, Australia's Kenneth To clipped Trinidad and Tobago's George Bovell this evening, 51.58 to 51.69, for the top prize. Australia's Kyle Richardson checked in with a third-place 52.71. To now has $14,500 in winnings and is leading the overall FINA points race, while Bovell pushed his winnings to $13,000 with the second-place prize.
Women's 200 back
China's Zhou Yanxin snagged the distance dorsal victory in front of New Zealand's Melissa Ingram, 2:04.81 to 2:05.35, while China's Bai Anqi earned third in 2:06.78. Zhou made a run at Ingram's circuit-best time of 2:04.28 from Berlin, but fell off the pace down the stretch. Ingram, however, has now increased her winnings to $11,000, having won money on every stop of the tour thus far.
Men's 50 fly
Kenya's Jason Dunford touched out China's Zhang Qibin at the wall, 23.14 to 23.16, for the sprint fly title. Australia's Ashley Delaney placed third in 23.43, his second bronze of the evening. Dunford has now won $6,000 on the tour, while Delaney is up to $6,500 as he's routinely claimed about $1,000 on each stop. The times were comparatively slow, as Matt Targett clocked a blistering 22.30 to move to eighth all time in the event's history with his win in Berlin.
Mixed 200 medley relay
A Chinese squad of Cheng Feiyi (24.30), Li Xiayan (26.58), Liu Zige (27.36) and Tang Yi (24.80) won the mixed-gender medley with a 1:43.04. Just behind, another Chinese team of Zhang Yu (24.22), Xue Jiajia (26.75), Han Tingru (27.53) and Liu Zhao (25.11) finished second in 1:43.61. The foursome of Liang Ziyong (26.75), Li Qing (31.59), Wang Qian (24.53) and Zhang Ying (24.75) took third in 1:47.62.