World Championships Kick off Tomorrow in Turkey, Five Days of Fast Swimming in Store

PHOENIX, Arizona, December 11. TOMORROW begins a marathon five days of competition at the FINA Short Course World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey. According to Ahmet Bozdogan, the Chairman of the Turkish Swimming Federation, a record number of athletes will be in attendance: 1,100 swimmers representing 162 countries. An additional 9 countries are sending athletes this year, up from 153 countries in 2010. The 25-meter championship meet is held every two years, the last of which was in Dubai.

Athletes from around the globe are already situated in Istanbul, getting used to time zone and facility differences before diving into the water to race tomorrow at the Sinan Erdem Arena. Swimmers Tweeted out pictures of the venue, revamped and decorated for the event. USA Swimming embedded a picture of Team USA's last practice before tomorrow's kick-off, as well:

A number of London Olympians will be competing in this weekend's event. However, the real story is who won't be competing in the World Championships. Namely, French Olympians Camille Muffat and Yannick Agnel, both of whom have recent world records. Also absent is the Netherlands' Ranomi Kromowidjojo, double Olympic gold medalist in the 50 and 100 freestyle. She also won gold in those events at the 2010 edition of the World Championships.

Chinese Olympian Ye Shiwen raced to silver in the 200 and 400 IM at the 2010 SC World Championships in Dubai. This time around, she's certainly the one to beat, having proven herself in LCM at the London Olympics, and then in SCM at the Beijing stop of the 2012 FINA World Cup Circuit. Distance star Sun Yang of China is absent from the heat sheets, leaving an opening for another athlete to step up in his place.

Also in attendance is Hungary's Katinka Hosszu, this year's FINA World Cup champion for the women. Hosszu's versatility spans the butterfly, middle distance and medley events. She'll be among the top competitors in a number of events.

A number of U.S. swimmers are reportedly tapering for the meet, hoping for solid performances in the winter season. Ryan Lochte won six gold medals at the World Championships in 2010, a performance he will probably replicate this time around, even though he's opted not to swim the 400 IM.

Stay tuned for live coverage of the event, both on the Swimming World website, and through our Twitter feed @SwimmingWorld #SCWorlds