Rio De Janeiro has been awarded a host slot for the next world cup! Swimming World Cup, that is. Just as the 2010 soccer (futbol!) World Cup is getting underway in South Africa, FINA has announced the host cities for the 2010 FINA/Arena World Cup of Swimming.
• Rio de Janeiro (BRA) September 10-12
• Beijing (CHN) October 12-13
• Singapore (SIN) October 16-17
• Tokyo (JPN) October 20-21
• Berlin (GER) October 30-31
• Moscow (RUS) November 2-3
• Stockholm (SWE) November 6-7
The biggest surprise here is Rio, which suffered a bit of embarrassment during the 2009 series when they had to cancel their meet, due to an inability to secure sponsorship commitments for the meet. The timing of the announcement was unfortunate, as Rio had just received the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic bid, and many questioned whether or not Rio could support such a massive undertaking as the Summer Olympics or the soccer World Cup if they couldn’t even handle a swimming World Cup event. This left the 2009 World Cup with ony 5 stops, the first time there had ever been fewer than 7, and broke a streak of 11 straight years where Brazil hosted the event. Only Germany and Sweden had longer streaks (each has hosted at least 1 meet in each of the 22 World Cup’s).
Another big disappointment is the second straight year where neither Australia nor the United States, which have the world’s two best swimming programs, is hosting an event. In fact, North America has not hosted a World Cup event since New York in ’05-’06.
This year’s event is scheduled in three clusters. First, the Rio meet in December. Next will be a cluster of meets in Beijing, Singapore, and Tokyo taking place over 10 days in Mid-October. Finally will be a cluster in Europe, with host sites of Berlin, Moscow, and Sweden running three meets over 9 days.
This year’s schedule definitely has a political feel to it, as it pays homage to Asia and Brazil, which are two of the fastest growing markets for both FINA and title sponsor Arena. If the series is successful there, it could further accelerate the growth of the sport in these two areas, as well as give Arena a huge leg-up in a lucrative competitive swim-suit business.
The clusters are a nice addition, as they will allow participants to save on the travel costs of flying to Europe, Asia, or South America more than once from their home continents.
The meet is swum in short-course meeters, and a cash prize is awarded for the overall series winner. Points are awarded based on each swimmer’s best individual performance at each meet (according to the FINA Points Table), with bonuses given for World records.
Last year’s men’s winner was Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa, followed by Roland Schoeman (RSA) and Peter Marshall (USA). On the women’s side, Jessica Hardy of the US took the crown, followed by Therese Alshammar of Sweden and Hinkelien Schreuder of the Netherlands.
The 2009 World Cup was the last major international competition where the polyurethane suits were allowed, and is annually one of the biggest SCM competitions in the world. This led to 37 World Records being broken last year. This meet is one of my favorite competitions in swimming, and should be another great showdown this year.