FINA has finalized its 2021 Swimming World Cup calendar, which will feature 4 legs in Europe and the Middle East.
Those dates represent 4 of the original 6 cities announced. August stops in Jinan, China and Singapore were already announced as canceled in May.
While neither the locations nor the dates of the last 4 stops have changed, there was growing consternation among would-be participants that the series wasn’t going to happen because of the lack of updates from FINA.
2021 FINA World Cup Calendar:
August 12-14, Jinan, China August 19-21, Singapore
- Berlin, Germany – October 1-3 (stage 1)
- Budapest, Hungary – October 7-9 (stage 1)
- Doha, Qatar – October 21-23 (stage 2)
- Kazan, Russia – October 28-30 (stage 2)
All four stops will be held in 25 meter pools, and each will serve as approved qualifying events for the FINA World Championships that will be hosted in Abu Dhabi (UAE) from December 16-21, 2021.
In total, there will be $1,452,000 dollars available for prize money in the series. That includes $224,000 to the top 20 athletes of each stage (per gender), plus an additional $556,000 in series money available to the top 10 athletes at the end of the series based on overall ranking. Those numbers were originally $314,000 to the top 8 athletes of each stage, plus $600,000 split among the top 3 overall athletes.
Each individual meet will award $168,000 based on race finish order. That’s less than the $275,600 per match that the ISL will award this season, though it comes with similar, or even larger, season-long bonuses for top performers for a shorter season.
The series was initially scheduled to be 6 meets and over $2.5 million in prize money.
“The FINA Swimming World Cup has become an iconic annual meet that is greatly valued by the entire swimming community,” said new FINA President Husain Al-Musallam. “The world’s best ranked athletes participate every year and outstanding performances are always witnessed. This year, the World Cup circuit is a qualifier for the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), where an increased prize money will also be distributed. As promised in June when I took office, athletes are my priority and the increase of prize money reflects my pledge.”
Though there has been overall a reduction in prize money for this year’s World Cup series, FINA did increase the prize pool for December’s World Short Course Championships from $2.07 million in 2018 to over $2.8 million in 2022.
The World Cup and World Short Course Championship meets don’t directly conflict with the competition schedule of the International Swimming League, though for non-European athletes who have longer trips to the Continent, this could mean a long time away from home after the long Olympic season.
On the other hand, this could represent a significant payday for many athletes as they head into the shortened three-year Paris 2024 Olympic cycle, with somewhere around $10 million up for grabs in 4 months of racing.
For a certain athlete, one who chooses to not go after the major World Championship or Olympic medals but instead focus on “circuit racing,” this fall season is starting to show how a swimmer could build a financially successful career outside of the normal peak-and-taper cycle that typically defines the sport.
2021 Major International Short Course Swimming Schedule:
- August 26-September 30 – ISL Regular Season (Naples, Italy)
- October 1-9 – FINA World Cup Cluster 1 (Berlin & Budapest)
- October 21-30 – FINA World Cup Cluster 2 (Doha & Kazan)
- November 11-28 – ISL Playoffs (Eindhoven, Netherlands)
- December 16-21 – FINA World Short Course Championships (Abu Dhabi, UAE)