Former USC Trojan, NCAA Record holder, and Hungarian star Katinka Hosszu may be done with her college eligibility, but with expected full participation in this year’s FINA World Cup Series is far from out of the spotlight.
The 2009 World Champion in the 400 IM is finally able to cash in on her short course exploits, and given her versatility and the relative lack of competition in distance races (as compared to sprints) at the World Cup, has to be the early favorite to take home the women’s series title and $100,000 bonus prize that goes with it; She should make half-that-again in individual race prizes by the time the series is over as well.
But here’s a bigger question: can she cash in on the $10,000 bonus for a World Record in the series?
Here’s what we know: Hosszu is far-and-away the best 400 IM’er in history in yards. She destroyedJulia Smit’srecord last year by almost two seconds with her yards time of 3:56.54. Here’s what’s really interesting though: Smit set the World Record in this 400 IM at 4:21.04 in December of the same short course season where she went on to set her NCAA Record (2009-2010).
The mitigating factor is “the suit”. Smit set the World Record at the Duel in the Pool, which is dubiously honored as the last major meet where full-body polyurethane suits were allowed.
Still, even back in textile at that year’s Pac 12 Championships, she blew by where anybody else had ever been. Her 3:58-low was the first time any woman had been under four minutes in the race, and even then, the old record belonged to her.
But now Hosszu, in yards, has blown by Smit. Is that yards cushion enough for the Hungarian to push by the World Record? The problem is that the World Cup format is a challenge for recor breaking, with so many races crammed into such a short span. In Dubai, the 400 IM won’t come until the 2nd day, though it is her first event on Wednesday. Based on the 2:10.5 she swam in the 200 IM in Dubai, it won’t be coming at this first meet.
Still, this is a record watch that one would imagine has to be on for this year. Perhaps the conquest would best come at December’s World Championships in Istanbul anyway, and perhaps there it’s best for maximum exposure (the financial windfall of a World Record at the World Championships would likely exceed $10,000 anyway – especially as it would build hype toward Worlds next year).