2019 FINA Champions Series Indianapolis: 5 Storylines to Watch


The third and final stop of the inaugural FINA Champions Series will come to the U.S. in Indianapolis at the IUPUI Natatorium. Here are five big storylines to watch at the meet, which kicks off on Friday and runs again on Saturday this weekend.


One of the most exciting rivalries in the sport will come to life again in Indianapolis, about an hour’s drive north of Lilly King‘s training home and alma mater, Indiana University. The Indiana-born breaststroker has evolved into the best sprint breaststroker the world has ever seen, made official at the 2017 World Championships where she set world records in both the 50m and 100m breast. After the finger-wagging between her and Russian Yulia Efimova at the 2016 Olympics, the two seemed to settle their heated rivalry to just a normal ol’ rivalry with an embrace following King’s win in the 50 breast.

They haven’t actually raced since the 2017 World Championships, though they’ve had a ‘virtual’ battle in 2018 to jostle for world rankings. The virtual duel has continued into 2019: after Efimova put up world #1 times in all three breast events at the Budapest stop of this series in early May, King fired back a week later at the Bloomington Pro Swim Series stop to claim world #1 times in the 50 and 100 breast for herself.

King has a two-tenth edge in the 50 (30.03 to 30.26) and three-tenth edge in the 100 (1:05.68 to 1:05.99), while Efimova is squarely in 2nd in the world in the 200 (2:22.52) behind only Annie Lazor‘s monumental 200 breast in Bloomington. King and Efimova are entered in all three breaststroke races, with Bethany Galat in the 50 and 200, Micah Sumrall in the 100 and 200, and Molly Hannis in the 100. Lazor isn’t racing this meet.


Backstroker big names Katinka Hosszu of Hungary and Emily Seebohm of Australia along with rising star Margherita Panziera of Italy have raced a ton over the last two stops, and while Seebohm won’t be making the trip to Indy, Canada’s Kylie Masse will add serious competition to the backstrokes.

Slightly more of a sprinter, Masse is still very capable in the 200 back, which should make for good match-ups at all three distances. Masse did not mess around at Canadian Trials in April, setting a national record in the 200 back (2:05.94) and coming up just short of the 100 back record (58.16). She leads the world in the 100 this year and is just behind Panziera in the 200 back.


Ryan Murphy has had American backstroke on his shoulders since he won backstroke double gold at the 2016 Olympics, while Matt Grevers is the oldest swimmer at the forefront of backstroke on the American side. The young (though recently turned 20) Michael Andrew has surfaced as one of the quickest 50 backstrokers in American history, while the same is true for Jacob Pebley in the 200.

Murphy will be contesting all three back events in Indy, Grevers will race the 100 and 200 back, while Andrew will stick with the 50 and Pebley the 200. Andrew is #4 in the world this year in the 50, while Grevers is #4 in the 100 with Murphy right behind him at #5.


Townley Haas has swum just two long course meets in 2019– the Longhorn Invite in January, where he went 1:48.72 in the 200 free, and an LCM season kick-off meet in late April, where he was 23.02 in the 50 free and 1:50.46 in the 200. He’s done with college swimming now, and he’s racing the 100, 200, and 400 free in Indy.

Haas isn’t known to be incredibly fast in-season, though, and he has a tough field to race: Italian star Gabriele Detti and rising Lithuanian talent Danas Rapsys in the 200 and 400, Mykhailo Romanchuk of Ukraine in the 400, Belgian Pieter Timmers in the 200 and 100, and Russian Vladimir Morozov and Brazilian Bruno Fratus in the 100.


Sarah Sjöström of Sweden will look to line her pockets even more, with $104,000 earned already from the first two stops at this series. She has five individual races in Indy (50/100/200 free, 50/100 fly), guaranteeing her $5,000 each if she were to get last in all of those events (nearly impossible if she’s healthy), with the potential to win them all (she’s only lost one individual race this series).

Worst case, she nets $25,000, best case, she adds $50,000 from individual swims. Add in the potential for being on the two relays, and she could earn an extra $8,000 if her relays both win. The most common sector for working women in Sweden is healthcare, where the average woman earns 24,176 kr per month, or roughly $30,000 per year. Sjöström will likely surpass that annual salary average with less than five minutes of swimming in Indy.

Katinka Hosszu is the second-highest earner this trip with $87,000, while the highest male earner has been Michael Andrew at $60,000. Hosszu is entered in five individuals and Andrew six.

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I’ll be front row at the 25m mark to watch King race Efimova in person, so excited 😃

Samuel Huntington

Ohhh great men’s 200 free

Cheatin Vlad

Yulia FTW!


only in your dreams …..Lilly will put on a show here


Not at all , by putting the fire into the pool area ….she is certainly not the rude arrogant swimmer u pretend she is ( from Cody’s vlogs , it appeared rather the contrary )

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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